The Los Angeles Podcast Festival officially kicked off yesterday at the Sofitel Hotel in Beverly Hills. This is the fourth year of the festival, which includes three days of live podcasts. This year, close to 40 podcasts will be playing at the festival, in addition to a number of panel discussions and a screening of the podcast documentary film Ear Buds.
For those unable to come to the festival in person, the LA Podfest has made the shows available to stream online for $25. Unfortunately, the festival’s website was down right out of the gate last night, so home viewers were unable to watch the live stream. The folks with the LA Podfest did an admirable job of communicating the issues and creating a temporary alternative by streaming shows on Periscope. As of this morning, the LA Podfest reports that it has moved its site to a new server and things should be running smoothly for today’s shows.
For those who were there in person, the first night was like an appetizer for what is to come over the weekend, with Saturday and Sunday each packing full days of shows into the Sofitel’s ballrooms. The appetizer proved plenty satisfying, though, with beloved shows like The Thrilling Adventure Hour, Walking the Room, I Love Green Guide Letters, and The 40 Year Old Boy. I was able to attend two shows Friday night: Doug Loves Movies and With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus.
Doug Benson brought his movie-themed podcast to the festival for the fourth straight year, and as expected, put on a fun show for the audience. Doug Loves Movies is particularly well-built for live audiences with its game-show style and Benson’s tendency to interact with the crowd. Last night, there may have been a bit too much crowd participation with a few festival-goers chiming in during the games, but it was handled delicately by Benson (and not so delicately by guest Sarah Silverman). In addition to Silverman, Benson’s guests included comedians Owen Benjamin and Esther Povitsky, and Leonard Maltin. Yes, the namesake for Benson’s Leonard Maltin Game joined the show, and predictably, he showed off his movie knowledge. Even Maltin had his limits though, and in one of the better moments of the show, he pulled out a copy of his own book, Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, to fact check an answer during Doug’s Last Man Stanton game.
Making its first appearance at the festival was Lauren Lapkus’ hilarious, improvised show With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus. For those unfamiliar with the show, Lapkus invites friends and fellow improvisers and comedians to her show to act as the “host” of the show. The guest then chooses the subject of the show and typically determines the character that Lapkus will play as the “guest” on their show. Last night, the guest-hosts were Stephanie Allynne, Mary Holland and Erin Whitehead, Lapkus’ teammates in the improv group Wild Horses. The show, which centered around a teenage sleepover, was filthy and fantastic. The Wild Horses worked like an improv machine, but at their funniest moments, still managed to make each other laugh. As for me, I still have neck pains this morning from throwing my head back in laughter.
Technical issues aside, the LA Podfest is off to a great start, mixing old and new podcasts together in a rumbling environment on the second floor of the Sofitel Hotel. Saturday’s podcasts will include WTF, The Indoor Kids and Spontaneanation.