Hello one and all. This last month has had me terribly busy. Well, not terribly, aside from that sinus cold. This month has been full of much good, including going to see the very topic of this dossier.
I’m sad I didn’t get around to interviewing this group at the beginning of the month because it’s been running every Monday this month. I saw the second instalment, had a great time, talked to John and, well, here we are. Unfortunately with my rehearsal schedule, I’ve been a bit out of commission, and sadly didn’t get this up before last night’s show. Happily, however, I’ve been informed that they SOLD OUT last night!
So, with that said, if you were ever interested in checking out how an old-fashioned radio show would have been recorded, go to Black Swan Comedy on the Danforth, next Monday evening to check out the final instalment of April With RADIO PROJECT X!
Who are we talking with?
I’m John Fleming, one of the producers of, and core performers in, Radio Project X. Last year, when we did a brand new show each month. I used to just act with the group but when two of the three producers had to move on to other exciting ventures I jumped on to help put together this year’s shows. The main man to mention is Neil Jones, head producer and comedy writer, and Peter Church, producer, performer, and radio aficionado.
When did you realize you were not only good at playing with your voice but you could potentially do this as a profession?
I dialect coach for actors and productions as well as perform myself (www.johnfleming.ca). When I was at York for acting, I discovered a real strength with accents and dialects, which likely came from speaking in funny voices a good amount as a child. It was after I had graduated, when a friend of mine suggested I take some voice-over lessons that I realised I had a knack for that as well. For me, it all fits under the same big umbrella.
Why RADIO PROJECT X?
This group is actually an amalgamation of two different projects. Peter Church and Sean Wayne Doyle worked together to produce studio-recorded shows (with me as an actor) under the moniker Radio’s Revenge (check out the great recordings available here: www.radiosrevenge.com), and Neil Jones had a live sketch-comedy radio group called Radio Vault. The two groups came together to create these live podcasts with a mix of comedy, drama, and adaptations of old stories now in the public domain. While I wasn’t at the group-naming meeting, I like to think the name conjures images of radio bandits, identities unknown, keeping sound entertainment alive through any means necessary.
What is so appealing to you about recording a podcast in front of a live audience?
The format of our shows is just like how they used to record radio plays: scripts in hands, standing at microphones. I’ve had a lot of people tell me after a show that they had never thought about how radio shows were produced before then. Knowing about the production of old radio, from foley tricks (crinkling cellophane for the sound of fire, etc.) to microphone technique, really brings the medium alive for people used to staring at screens and not exercising their imaginations. This live format allows for a bit of imagination, but still has visible performers to watch; a bit of both worlds. Of course, the laughter and applause always sounds great in a recording. And while the shows don’t make too much profit, the live audience gives us a bit of money to play with, allowing us to keep our website up, and let’s us eat snacks at our rehearsals.
What kinds of things can we expect from RADIO PROJECT X?
Every RPX show is sure to contain a number of ‘olde tyme’ commercials for products such as “Mail-Order Toupees,” “Special Paper Pants” or the revolutionary new skin cream “Your-Skin’s-A-Mess,” dramatic adaptations from fiction writers like Philip K Dick and Theodore Sturgeon, and new versions of classic radio plays like Arch Oboler’s The Dark (which some people may recognise from one of The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horrors). My favourite pieces, though, are the longer (about a half hour) original comedy serials such as “I Smell a Mystery” and “The Adventures of Kurt Richardson, Geo-Seismologist.” Neil and Peter write some hilarious stories in the style of the 1950s radio serials which both use and poke fun at the old radio conventions. We always have a musical guest as well, to break up the stories with musical interludes.
What is your favourite memory from a past RADIO PROJECT X?
Last year, we had 8 shows, one a month, at the Black Swan Tavern, and we sold out more than a couple times. I think the Christmas holiday-themed show and the Hallowe’en show were especially strong. I, personally, quite liked playing The King of the Cheese Men (an invading alien horde), and Half Pint, the four foot tall evil defender of the Imperial System, foiled in an episode of The Mighty Metric Men. It’s radio; anyone can be anyone.
Describe RADIO PROJECT X in three adjectives or a phrase.
An old medium refreshed for the new century.
Do you have anything you want to share with us? A story? A photo? A song? A video?
Well, certainly listen to some of our podcasts at www.radioprojectx.com. There are some fascinating old stories and hilarious new ones there. Radio Project X is also on Facebook, where you can find updates and links to other radio goodies. Our final show of this month – Crime, Corruption & Murder (and that’s the nice side of town) – is at The Black Swan on the 29th of April, so come and share that with us!