Podcasts are in tune with the democratized spirit of Internet media; anyone with a microphone and a computer can offer their listeners unlimited hours of recordings, usually for free. Limited only by their imaginations, podcasters have a freedom of expression unrestricted by commerce, censorship or geography. Several great podcasts have blossomed in Denver's flourishing arts community; here to celebrate them is Podcast Profiles, a series documenting the efforts of local podcasters and spotlighting the peculiar personalities behind them.
Ice Cream Social is a comedy chat show that airs live on Radio 1190 every Wednesday from 7 to 8 p.m. and is released the following day as a podcast. Initially conceived by Denver/ Boulder comics Cody Spyker and Jacob Rupp as a way to gain a foothold in the scene, it quickly evolved into required listening for local fans and comics alike due to Spyker and Rupp's engaging banter, recurring segments and delightful promotional photos featuring comedians' faces photoshopped onto Ben & Jerry's pints. Since its debut last July, Ice Cream Social has welcomed a host of Denver's funniest comedians into the subterranean studio beneath the University Memorial Center in Boulder, but its hosts have really hit their stride recently. We caught up with Spyker and Rupp to discuss the origins of Ice Cream Social, what they've learned from interviewing so many comedians, and how they landed their biggest guest yet, Amy Schumer.
Westword: So, Jacob, you’re the one with the association with 1190, right?
Jacob Rupp: Yeah, through going to CU Boulder, mainly.
How did that start for you?
Rupp: That was actually Cody. She knew about Radio 1190 and she just came up and asked me about it because I’d been doing a bunch of stuff on campus. She told me I should look into having a show on Radio 1190. So I e-mailed them the next day and they wanted to talk, so Cody and I went in to talk about it.
And you’re due to graduate soon, right?
Rupp: Next year.
Do you have plans to keep the show going?
Rupp: Yeah, probably. We don’t really talk to the people there at all. It seems like they have some people who are older but they still have shows.
Yeah, I think two of my co-workers have a show there and I’m pretty sure they’re not students. So Cody, where did you seize upon the potential of Radio 1190?
Cody Spyker: I was listening to their program, and then I went to their website. I hadn’t realized it was associated with CU. So I told Jacob we should figure out how to get in touch with these people and get sponsorship, or have them promote comedy events. Then Jacob sent them an e-mail—
Rupp: —and then we met with them—
Spyker: —and the next day, we had a radio show. It was the easiest process.
Rupp: Usually they have DJs intern for a month, but we just got started since we're a specialty show.
How long ago was that?
Rupp: I think we’re coming up on a year in July.
And it’s not affiliated with any class or credit hours or anything?
Rupp: No, not at all.
Spyker: They just taught us how to use the soundboard and said, “You gotta keep it clean, and try to make your showtimes.”
Rupp: We started last summer, a few weeks before the semester started and we were on Tuesdays at noon. Prime a.m. spot. I guess we were on a sort of trial, but no one listened to us, ever.
How do you know what the listenership is?
Spyker: We can only really gauge that from itunes and the podcast website, but live-steaming — there’s no way to gauge.
Rupp: I don’t even think they know how many people listen on the actual dials. Maybe they have numbers from the online stream, but they don’t trust us with that information.
Spyker: So we assume that we’re talking to—
Rupp: —like six people.
Spyker: Or thousands.
Do you feel like you can keep it going even when Rupp's no longer a student?
Spyker: Yeah. I think especially with the Amy Schumer thing; we’ve gained a little traction with them. They’ve started to share our posts about that. So maybe we’re getting a little legitimacy from them. I don’t know.
That was a big get. How did that come together and how did it go?
Rupp: Well, basically, I told Cody a couple weeks before that happened that I’d seen posters for her show. I told Cody, “Hey, maybe I’ll e-mail Amy Schumer,” but then I never got around to even trying it. Because we haven’t had good luck with that, anyway. But then the Monday before, I got an e-mail from a girl who used to do a show on Radio 1190. She secured an interview with Amy Schumer and wanted it to be broadcast, so she offered to let us come along.
Spyker: So it just basically fell into our laps.
Rupp: So then we started preparing for that for like two days; I didn’t go to class. I watched everything she’d done.
Spyker: I still went to work for two days, but it’s all good.
Rupp: Well, I’m more committed than you.
Spyker: But, yeah, it went well. It really did. We went to meet up with her at the St. Julien Hotel in Boulder, in a cool conference room. We had fifteen minutes.
It’s cool that it was face-to-face rather than over the phone.
Spyker: And we were her first interview of the night after she’d done the meet and greet on campus, so she had just walked in the room.
Did you get to go to the show? How was it?
Rupp: It was cool, but there was a Q&A beforehand that made me completely hate Boulder. It was hard to sit through.
Spyker: It was awful. The first four or five questions were all like, “Hey, Amy, would you like, come smoke a joint with us on our porch after this?” In total seriousness. These were genuine requests.
Rupp: And then there was one typical “women in comedy” type of question, and that was it.
Spyker: She was a pro the whole time, but yeah, it was hard to sit through.
What a weird way to start a comedy show.
Spyker: Well, it wasn’t a comedy show. It was a pre-release screening of her new movie. She didn’t do any standup.
Oh, I get it now. How was the movie?
Spyker: It was hysterical.
Rupp: Lebron James is surprisingly really funny in it.
So where do you draw from for your more routine guests?
Spyker: Being in Boulder, I think it’s cool that we can showcase people from Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins, or even people visiting from out of town. I think that’s our role: to serve as a kind of hub for all the different comedy communities. So we try to get even exposure between them, although the pools of people vary in size. Denver obviously has the biggest and best.
But it can be hard for us to get there on time.
Rupp: Sure. We also just do people we like, too. We can get a lot of people, but it would just be for the sake of getting them on.
Whether or not you’d end up with a good episode from that is another matter.
Spyker: I like going from the itty-bitty start-up comedians who’ve only been around a couple months to someone like Hippieman, who’s been doing standup for decades. I think that’s fun, too, but also at a certain level, we don’t really treat them any differently once they’re in the studio. It’s an equalizing force.
Yeah, all that matters to listeners is if they’ve got something interesting to say. Would you generally say, though, that veterans have more interesting things to say than someone who barely knows what they’re doing because they’ve only been around a couple months?
Rupp: I would say that you can tell when someone has done stuff like this before. Some people really know how to do an interview. Sometimes, newer people won’t talk as long, or they won’t have more than one or two interesting things to say on any given topic, so we have to do more as hosts. But it’s never been that bad with someone newer. The different is that there’s some pros who can do twenty great minutes on one question, which is great.
Spyker: They’ll just go when they start talking, and that makes it a lot of fun.
Did you start recording the shows to release in a podcast format right away?
Rupp: We did it right away pretty much. We did one episode with just me and Cody—
Spyker: Which will never be aired again. Because it was just awful. I think we were just trying to figure it out, and it was 11 a.m. to noon each week.
Rupp: We had a bunch of segments and weird games. We decided to simmer it down a little bit after that one. But that was the main idea of it. I didn’t want to just do another podcast because at this point it just seems like so much white noise, you know what I mean?
Spyker: Everyone has podcasts.
Rupp: I really like that we have the radio station backing us because I feel like if people didn’t listen to the podcast it wouldn’t be a a big deal because we’re still on the radio. That helps me feel better about not marketing that much.
Well, you do a little marketing. Photoshopping the comics’ faces onto Ben & jerry’s cartons is quite eye-catching. Whose idea was that?
Spyker: It was totally Jacob’s idea. He does all the artwork.
Rupp: Yeah, I’ve been getting into graphic design lately. I don’t really remember where I came up with that, probably just from the name Ice Cream Social.
Spyker: I think you just sent it to me out of nowhere. I saw our faces on ice cream cartons and I thought, “Oh, my god, that’s perfect.” I think it’s actually become a big draw, for people to want to be on the show and for listener support. That’s how you were booked.
I loved having my face on an ice cream.
Rupp: Matt Wayman said his mom really liked it.
Spyker: It’s cute! It’s quirky! It draws more attention than just a regular photo.
Where did the name Ice Cream Social come from?
Spyker: I think that you had a joke where you mentioned something about an ice cream social at the time. I remember at our original brainstorming session, Jacob mentioned the name “Ice Cream Social” and I liked it right away.
Rupp: It's was just one of those made-up names that seemed like it would work for something.
Spyker: We were goobers about it in the beginning. We were going to be very pun-based at the outset. We were going to try and integrate as many ice cream puns as we could, and that never happened.
That's probably for the best.
Spyker: Yeah, it's good that it fell away.
Rupp: For a while, I liked the name "And Cody, Show Jacob," which is a jumble of "The Cody and Jacob Show." Then we realized that it was confusing as fuck.
Have any guests struggled to remain clean on air?
Spyker: Yeah, we've had a couple people slip up. You slipped and said "fuck."
Rupp: Alan Bromwell, our first guest, cussed in his very first on-air sentence, so that was good. I don't think it's that big of a deal. We've never gotten in trouble for it.
Spyker: Stephen Agyei talked very cleanly about pegging. He did a freestyle rap, mostly about pegging, but it was entirely clean, so that was impressive.
Rupp: We can talk about anything, but they did ask us not to cuss.
Any plans for the future? Anything big coming up for Ice Cream Social?
Spyker: I think the Amy Schumer thing made it hit home for us that we should be reaching out to more people. So, we have been. Jacob recently did send an e-mail to Marc Maron's people.
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Rupp: We got declined immediately!
Follow Byron Graham on twitter @ByronFG for more mildly amusing sequences of words