Protest Too Much

Stephanie Crugnola is the creator and host of Protest Too Much, a Shakespeare Showdown podcast that pits Stephanie against performers, educators, and scholars in a weekly battle of Shakespearean comparisons, challenges, and ‘best ofs’. Recently, Stephanie debated with Austin Tichenor the question of what is “Shakespeare’s Funniest Non-Comedy,” a conversation that lasted 45 minutes, and a 15-minute abridgment of which you can hear below. Featuring: Shakespearean pet peeves; the danger of sleeping on the Histories; how Shakespeare is all about contrasts; backup from Samuel Johnson in 1765; the comedy of ‘sad-off’s; comparisons to Monty Python and The Death of Stalin; and how Shakespeare is the king of tentpole media! (Length 20:38) 

Hamlet’s Prequel Adventure!

Dramaturg Kate Pitt joins us for a deep dive into the creation of the script for Hamlet’s Big Adventure! (a prequel), on which she cast her dramaturgical magic (and which we’ll finally get to tour once this stupid pandemic is over). Kate discusses HBA’s intertextual conversation with Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, and its biofictional elements, and reveals the identity of the most confusing Hamlet ever; how a prequel can (and should) reveal insights into Shakespeare’s play; how old Hamlet is; the importance of double confirmation; how both Ophelia and Hamlet have All. The. Feels; the value of deploying random skills; the question of how old Hamlet is, anyway; how the gravedigger is an unreliable narrator; the struggle of theater as a career and what to say about it to your kids about it; and finally, possible spoilers (especially if you know anything at all about the career of UK comedian Tommy Cooper). Plus: jokes for everyone! Poster Art by Lar DeSouza. (Length 32:01)

Here Are Frangela

Frances Callier and Angela V. Shelton, better known as Frangela, host the essential funny political podcast The Final Word and this Saturday night September 26, 2020, are performing as part of Stephanie Miller’s Sexy Liberal Virtual Tour, appearing right in your living room (on your computer)! Frances and Angela talk about how they joined comedy forces and share tips about the importance of using your voices; bringing the funny to the people; mutual Second City origins; memories of the TBS pilot The Week Reduced; the myth of world hunger; finding comic angles; possible spoilers to Star Trek: Discovery, the valuable bond of having opinions about everything; the importance of remembering that we have options and things don’t need to be this way; and the cathartic release of breaking crockery. (Length 22:04)

Crafting Colbert’s Comedy

Comedy writer Tom Purcell has been working with Stephen Colbert a long time, first as the executive producer of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central and now as the executive producer of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS. (Pictured above and left, he also appears in sketches.) Tom discusses how he got started in the comedy business and what lessons if first taught him; shares boring origin stories; talks about the joy of vibing comedically; the importance of (and tips for) detaching one’s self; the value of mouth-feel; how fear is a mind-killer; how he misses the grease of unexpected interaction; and most heroically, how he eps turns today’s news — all of it, even when it’s unpleasant — into comedy. (Length 20:57)

Directing Sketch Shows

Like many theaters in Chicago, Second City shut down on March 13, 2020, the same day we were scheduled to chat with actor, writer, and improviser Frank Caeti, who was directing their current production. We kept our appointment and recorded this interview with the Second City alum anyway, thinking we’d post it once everything re-opened “in a few weeks”. Ha! Nonetheless, enjoy this fascinating conversation about the process of creating a sketch show out of nothing, and listen as Frank shares Bull Durham analogies; how a director acts as a head writer; the importance of compassion, empathy, and understanding; the value of group ownership; being patient as ideas go from half-baked to more fully-baked; embracing relative autonomy; gives shout-outs to institutional memory; the endurance required for encore late-night sets; the importance of audience feedback and the uncertainty of not knowing when we might get it again; and finally, the challenge of getting used to not touching your face and how philosophers are really the forgotten victims during this pandemic. (Length 23:17) (Pictured: Frank Caeti, left, with Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons) in The Second City’s Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens at the Geffen Playhouse. Photo by Craig Schwartz.)

Brian Stack’s Music

Second City alumnus Brian Stack (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert; Late Night and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien) has a knowledge of popular music that’s both broad and deep, and this week he shares with us the kind of music that gets him through tough times (like, say, a pandemic); how music intersects with comedy in surprising and hysterical ways; how Van Morrison is perfect for any occasion; his outstanding Neal Young and Michael Macdonald impressions; some comedic inspiration from Men Without Hats; and the importance of sharing your music (while not, of course, sharing your germs). (Length 23:08) 

The Reduced Shakespeare Company Christmas

Your new holiday tradition! The complete (unabridged) recording of The Reduced Shakespeare Company Christmas, produced by Connie Blaszczyk for Public Radio International in 1995, which has been unavailable for years and features Adam Long, Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor, and Matthew Croke in a special “live” recording from RSC HQ. Not to be confused with our stage production The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged), the RSC Christmas features transmissions from Yule-Sat, Reed’s Happy Wholesome Holiday Poem, Carolers from Hell, just A Little Dickens, the incredibly helpful Carol Complaint Line, almost-25-year-old references, a very minor holiday apocalypse, 12 Tips of Christmas, our epic production of “The Complete Christmas Carol (abridged)”, an exclusive interview with Charles Dickens himself, and ultimately, inevitably, the True Meaning of Christmas. (Length 46:33)

Romeo And Juliet

The current Chicago Shakespeare Theatre production of Romeo And Juliet completely reinvigorates Shakespeare’s most famous play, emphasizing frequently overlooked themes and giving events an intense urgency that accentuates both the comedy and the tragedy. Director Barbara Gaines (who’s also CST’s founding artistic director) talks about what finally drew her to the play and how she emphasized certain things while eschewing too much romanticization; how she underscores the dangers of cycles repeating endlessly; creates powerful final images: how every Shakespeare play can be improved by setting it in a high school; how she adds tension and comedy to the balcony scene; gives us a reduced history of Chicago Shakespeare Theatre; and the wonderful but maybe not too surprising relationship between Chicago Shakes and Second City. (Length 24:02) (Pictured: Brittany Bellizeare and Edgar Miguel Sanchez in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, directed by Barbara Gaines. Photo by Liz Lauren.)

Standup Vs. Improv

Liz Allen is an improviser and teacher who, among other things, coached the improv team in Mike Birbiglia’s film Don’t Think Twice. Liz’s trip to the Mayo Clinic became an existential crisis that caused her to reflect on her work and career, and she shares with us her revelations about angels on earth, comedy with a purpose, misdiagnoses, spontaneous jokes, enriching laughs, weird complications, having a face for comedy, surviving a long night of the soul, embracing life lessons, coaching movie actors, the surprising spiritual element of joke-telling, and best of all: solid endocrine humor! (Length 20:10)

History of Vaudeville

To paraphrase Ken Burns, the story of Vaudeville is the story of America. And as we head into the 4th of July holiday weekend, it’s the perfect time to talk with performer and author Trav S.D. about his fun and highly readable book No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous. Trav talks about how his early love of TV variety shows led to his lifelong interest and discusses how conservatory training leads to working for the Big Apple Circus; how vaudeville resembles English music hall; narrow platforms and the benefits of only having three channels; shout-outs to both Stephen Holden of the New York Times and Chuckles the Clown; the appeal of a funhouse mausoleum as a final resting place; and a warning about terrible parents who don’t introduce their children to classic comedians and performers. (Length 18:35)

Balancing Twelfth Night

We continue the conversation with Professor Katy Reedy and her class at Lake Forest College, taking student questions about Austin Tichenor’s approach to directing Twelfth Night for the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company in the fall of 2018. Austin talks about the trick to balancing the comedic and dramatic elements in his production, Shakespeare’s anachronistic examples, illustrating sisters in loss, staging the subtext, taking actor suggestions, creating a world in which both comedy and drama can co-exist and where certain kinds of storytelling can happen, underlying tensions, potentially anti-climactic reunion scenes, going on a journey with your characters, the importance of working with really great people, and discovering that not everything is actually in the text. (Length 17:29) (William Oliver Watkins as Orsino, Caitlin McWethy as Viola, and Abby Lee as Olivia in Twelfth Night at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 2018. Directed by Austin Tichenor.)

Discussing Twelfth Night

Professor Katy Reedy invited our own Austin Tichenor to speak to her class at Lake Forest College about his production of Twelfth Night that he directed for the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company in the fall of 2018. Austin discusses all the things he wanted his production NOT to be; how this great comedy is fueled by great loss; how Olivia threw herself into the physical comedy; the treatment of the treatment of Malvolio; speculation as to why Orsino is such a poorly written character; how to lean into both the comedy and the pain; and the possibly blasphemous notion that maybe Feste isn’t as interesting as many people think he is. (Length 19:50) (Pictured: William Oliver Watkins and Caitlin McWethy as Orsino and Viola, plus the entire cast of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company production of Twelfth Night, directed by Austin Tichenor.)

Episode 637. History Of Blackface

Director and teaching artist Jerrell L. Henderson discusses the history of Blackface, the troubling and racist practice of white people “blacking up” to portray demeaning African-American stereotypes (which was, incredibly, the most popular form of entertainment in America for over 100 years). Jerrell discusses its roots in minstrelsy, almost-Shakespearean levels of layers and multiple identities; shout-outs to great performers like Daddy Rice, J. Rosamund Johnson, Bob Cole, Ernest Hogan, George Walker, Bert Williams (above); genuine love being the butt of the joke; how some entertainers are responding to issues of yellow- and brown face better than others; a legacy of trauma and historical objections; and how greater onstage and onscreen representation in entertainment matters. (Length 21:45)

Episode 633. ‘Nerdy’ Brian Posehn

Reed Martin (who literally wrote the book on the History of Comedy) interviews his fellow Sonoma Valley High School alum, comedian Brian Posehn, about Brian’s new book Forever Nerdy: Living My Dorky Dreams and Staying Metal, as a fundraiser for the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation. Brian talks about his favorite teachers and getting bullied, lighting up as a performer, polishing your material, touring with the Comedians of Comedy, killing the “Karkrashians”, working with Stan Lee, meeting his Star Wars heroes, shout-out to the Sebastiani Theatre, and talking about ‘spinners’ with Carrie Fisher. Featuring a special appearance by Brian’s fellow Mr. Show alum Brett Paesel, author of Mommies Who Drink: Sex, Drugs, and Other Distant Memories of an Ordinary Mom! (Length 24:19)

Episode 592. Christopher Moore’s ‘Noir’

Christopher Moore, the author of such wonderful comic novels as Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal; Fool; The Serpent of Venice; The Stupidest Angel; Bloodsucking Fiends; Practical Demonkeeping; Sacre Bleu, and many others, has a new novel out called Noir, and it’s wonderfully comic, weird, and surprisingly poignant, all of which are hallmarks of a Chris Moore novel. Chris talks about this new novel’s inspirations which, it turns out, are varied and many. Featuring San Francisco history, film and literary precedent, surprisingly Shakespearean inspirations, weird connections to Roswell, loving language, shout-out to Damon Runyon, the joys of touring (and how to train for it), teasing future novels, and the Top Secret First Thing They Teach You at Famous Author School. (Length 21:18)

Episode 584. The Comedy “Plantation!”

Kevin Douglas’ new play Plantation! is having its world premiere right now at the Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago, in a production directed by Lookingglass founding member David Schwimmer and starring eight phenomenal actresses. It’s a family comedy that deals with race and legacy and family and atonement, and in addition to its many laughs, some of which are definitely uncomfortable, its ending takes audiences absolutely by surprise and bring them to tears. Kevin discusses his creative process, explaining why he decided to create a comedy in the first place, and features the danger of clinging, the benefit of listening to actors, the value of a spoonful of sugar, and how Kevin’s next play will solve all the world’s problems. (Length 25:05)

Episode 538. Falcon Theatre Fools

”The Falcon Theatre is producing its own non-RSC production of The Complete History of Comedy (abridged), so April Fools Day seems like the perfect time to meet the Falcon’s fools: Zehra Fazal, Marc Ginsburg, and Mark Jacobson (pictured). Hear them chat about the challenges of grounding outlandish behavior, the fun of running around like Read more…

Episode 517. Flying Karamazov Brothers

”The Flying Karamazov Brothers are the legendary band of jugglers and comedians, founded in 1973 by Paul Magid and Howard Patterson, who started performing at ren faires and busking in Santa Cruz before touring internationally and performing on Broadway, most notably in their seminal Lincoln Center production of The Comedy of Read more…

Episode 516. The Q Brothers

”The Q Brothers are the creators of Othello: The Remix, now in previews off-Broadway, as well as their previous off-Broadway hit The Bombitty of Errors and other hip-hop interpretations of Shakespeare. GQ and JQ chat about their process of reinvention, and reflect on inventing words, teaching and learning experiences, becoming an industry, embarrassments of riches, Read more…

Episode 503. Too Much Parody?

”Is there such a thing? Podcast listener and theatre critic Shannon Friday joins us to talk about this question, and inspires us to reflect on issues of theatrical parody, whether there’s too much of it, its value and its limits, the differences between parody and satire, the fear of changing Read more…

Episode 486. Merchant Of Venice

”Tiger Reel has directed several productions of William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, and he talks about the discoveries he’s made working on this fascinating and difficult play. Featuring the struggles of creating human characters, juggling tones, training a young padawan, possibly inappropriate comparisons to Comedy of Errors, the importance of finding the right Portia Read more…

Episode 475. Our Poster (L)Artist

”Lar DeSouza (known as @lartist on Twitter) is the cartoonist and caricaturist who created the poster art for our last three stage shows: The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged), The Complete History of Comedy (abridged), and William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged). We talk about our shared cultural sensibilities, the Read more…

Episode 467. Holy Humor Sunday

”Not only are our shows fun and entertaining, but apparently we’re doing the Lord’s work! Pastor Robert Lewis discusses Holy Humor Sunday, the post-Easter celebration that honors the great joke God played on Death. Featuring the power of communion, essential differences between Pope Clement XV and Pope Francis, comparing actors to itinerant Read more…

Episode 465. Captain Steve Davis

”A Random Fan Shout-Out expanded to full podcast form! Louisiana Tech student Ashley Davis shares memories of her father, Capt. Steve Davis, and how he introduced her to theatre, Shakespeare, and comedy. Featuring the bonding power of laughter, memories of seeing Othello way too young, shared affection for Monty Python, Read more…

Episode 443. Comedy Tour Recap

”As our 88-city UK tour of The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) comes to a close, cast members and crew Gary Fannin, Matt Pearson, Andy Hodges, Steven Rostance, and Martin Bristow share their highlights and lowlights of how it’s gone. Featuring wardrobe malfunctions, surreal improvisations, cactus metaphors, topical changes, the perils of Read more…

Episode 438. Power Of Comedy

Austin Tichenor talks about “The Power of Comedy” to the Bergen County Section of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) and reveals comic influences, the difference between solemn and serious, universal truths that aren’t quite that universal, speaking truth to power, several examples of how comedy has changed the world, Read more…

Episode 426. Marin Theatre Company

”Jasson Minadakis is the Artistic Director of one of our favorite hometown Bay Area theaters, the Marin Theatre Company, and he talks with us candidly about his work, our work, and MTC’s place in both the Bay Area and the national conversation. Featuring engaged audiences, issue-driven theatre, differences between Cincinnati and Read more…

Episode 425. UK Comedy Openings

”After a long week of tech and a weekend of opening performances, our 81-city UK tour of The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) is finally underway. Actors Gary Fannin, Matt Pearson, Andrew Hodges, and Steven Rostance talk about the process that got us here, the things we learned, and the fears Read more…

Episode 424. Comedy’s Seriously Funny

”Austin Tichenor talks about The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) with Julie Motz, host of Arts Desire on KWMR in Point Reyes, California. Featuring some great laughs, “incisive political commentary,” surprising poignancy, a terrible hint about the RSC’s next show, a special appearance by Adrian Scarborough (who’s busy in LA shooting this), and finally the best reason Read more…

Episode 419. Choice Table Comments

”After every performance, we go out to a table in the lobby and greet the audience, and are always greeted in return with the most amazing (and sometimes amusing) comments. This week we share the various thoughts we’ve heard over the years (and over the course of our current run of Read more…

Episode 417. Comedy Cast Notes

”Chad Yarish and Dan Saski, two of the original cast members of the workshop production of The Complete History of Comedy (abridged), attended the first performance of the West Coast Premiere of the RSC production at the Marin Theatre Company, and shared their thoughts about how the show has changed Read more…

Episode 416: Bay Area Roots

”The Reduced Shakespeare Company (as well as Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor) return to their Bay Area roots this week as they begin a month-long of The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) at the Marin Theatre Company in Mill Valley, CA. Featuring things to do and places to see (and Read more…

Episode 415. Dudes Talkin’ Comedy

”Paul Harris, host of “The Biggest Little Morning Show in the Afternoon” on the Big 550 KTRS in St. Louis, chats with Dominic Conti and Austin Tichenor about The Complete History of Comedy (abridged), and gets us to reveal forgotten lines, the evolution of jokes, comic influences, important research, the Read more…

Busy Busy Fall!

In addition to our ongoing UK Tour of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) , and our performances of The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) around the US, we’re excited to make our debut in mainland China with performances of Shakespeare (abridged) at the Wuzhen Theatre Festival, from October 31 to November Read more…

Episode 405. Reduced Radio Show

”The Reduced Shakespeare Radio Show was a six-part radio series we wrote and recorded for the BBC World Service back in 1992, and this week, by request, we reminisce about its creation. Featuring optimistic titling, exclusive excerpts, a special appearance by Reed Martin Professional Impressionist, audio inspirations like the Goon Read more…

Episode 402. The Pleasance Courtyard

”LIVE! (ish) from the Pleasance Courtyard, the throbbing hub of theatrical activity here at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, comes this collection of pitches from people selling some of the more than three thousand shows being performed this year. Featuring our reduced tribute to Robin Williams, rules for doing sh*t-faced Shakespeare, denizens Read more…

Episode 392. Podcast For Larissa

”We dedicate the podcast this week to one of our favorite fans, Larissa from Australia, who’s unable to travel to see us. Austin Tichenor, Reed Martin, Matt Croke, Dominic Conti, Michael Faulkner, Jerry Kernion, Mick Orfe, Dustin Sullivan, Jeff Marlow, Gary Fannin, and David Ellis send personal greetings and tell totally tall and Read more…

Episode 388. Returning To Edinburgh

”It’s been too long, but we’re finally returning to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August 2014 to perform the European premiere of The Complete History of Comedy (abridged). Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor talk about the changes they’ll have to make to adapt the script for European and international audiences, Read more…

Episode 386. Big Theatre Week

”Last week was a very big week for the Reduced Shakespeare Company and its (you’ll pardon the expression) members. We set a Guinness World Record for Highest Theatrical Performance, we previewed and opened The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Austin Tichenor opened in the Lookingglass Theatre Read more…

Episode 385. Unknown Dan Rice

”Author David Carlyon talks about his book Dan Rice: The Most Famous Man You’ve Never Heard Of and its subject, one of the richest entertainers of the 19th century and the Jon Stewart of his day. Featuring “Hits on the Times”, an examination of 19th century performance and politics, the Read more…

Episode 381. Acting With Masks

”Rob Richards is the Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at Phillips Exeter Academy, where he recently directed Austin Tichenor’s adaptation of Frankenstein. He’s also an actor, mask maker, and puppeteer, and this week the two old friends talk about the appeal of masks in both theatrical production Read more…

Episode 377. By The Numbers

”Playwright, director, and comedy nerd/scholar/author Gary Rudoren discusses his very funny book Comedy By The Numbers: The 169 Secrets of Humor and Popularity (co-written with Eric Hoffman). Featuring more talking in pubs, parental influences, the road to publication (by McSweeney’s), cool Mr. Show and Saul Goodman connections, the truth about Read more…

Episode 373. (NOT) Banned in Newtownabbey

”(NOTE: On 27 January, 2014, less than 24 hours after this was posted, the artistic council of the theatre reversed its ban and the Newtownabbey Borough Council voted to uphold the artistic leadership of the theatre. Still – enjoy.) In a move that has put the RSC into the middle of Read more…

Episode 372. There’s Always One

”Even in the middle of a hugely successful run like we had at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (where our production of The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) sold more single tickets than any production in their 2014-2015 season except for A Christmas Carol), there will be at least one Read more…

Episode 370. Meeting Mike McShane

Let’s ring in the new year with an old friend! Improv legend (Whose Line Is It Anyway?) and TV (Doctor Who; Brotherly Love) and film (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; A Bug’s Life) veteran Mike McShane talks about his wildly eventful life and shares tales about the differences between improv Read more…

Episode 369. 2013’s Top Podcasts

”Are you dying to know what the ten most popular episodes of the Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast were in 2013? Hope so! For this final podcast of the year, we hear excerpts from the ten most-downloaded podcasts of the last twelve months. Featuring insights into homeland security, reasons why both Read more…

RSC World Premiere Is A Hit! A Very Palpable Hit!

dominic-abeThe critics and the public agree! The World Premiere of The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park is a monster hit! The Cincinnati Enquirer said, “It’s funny. Really, really funny… And most of all it’s really, really smart… They are exhaustingly hilarious!”
And Cincinnati City Beat said, “A dizzying night’s entertainment! It’s the work of some serious minds exploring the art of comedy… Fresh and funny!” (more…)

Episode 366. Serpent of Venice

”Pocket of Dog Snogging returns! New York Times Best-Selling author Christopher Moore discusses his Shakespeare-inspired comic novels Fool (a retelling of King Lear from the jester’s point of view) and his latest The Serpent of Venice, which combines Othello, Merchant of Venice, Edgar Allan Poe, and a sea monster. Featuring Read more…

Episode 364. Constructing The Narrative

”Sometimes the hardest work goes completely unnoticed — which is as it should be. Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor discuss the narrative conceit they created for The Complete History of Comedy (abridged), other company’s failed attempts to create something similar, the problems of being too close to the subject matter, Read more…

Episode 363. ‘Comedy’ Opening Weekend

”Our ninth stage show The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) opened last Thursday night (November 14, 2013) at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and we kept the microphone going before and after the performance. Featuring wild predictions, backstage interviews, post-show impressions, satisfied customers, audience participation, the differences between US and Read more…

Episode 362. Design For ‘Comedy’

”A production manager’s job is never done. Phil Rundle from Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park talks about the challenges of his job, which right now includes designing the set for the world premiere of The Complete History of Comedy (abridged), and shares with us surprising complications, interesting thematic elements, creative juggling, Read more…

Episode 361. A Comedian’s Prayer

”Reed Martin, Dominic Conti, and Austin Tichenor take a break from rehearsing the world premiere of The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. The boys talk about how it’s going and share typical rehearsal room antics, excerpts from the show, a discussion of fools both Shakespearean Read more…

Episode 349. Rocking The Casbah

”Journalist and author Robin Wright talks about her book Rock The Casbah: Rage and Rebellion in the Muslim World, which chronicles youth-inspired Islamic revolts against autocrats and extremism using such pop-cultural weapons as music, comedy, and theatre, plus even comic books and theme parks. Featuring pop-culture political flash points , hip-hop Islam, Read more…