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By Shelby Clark Petkus
Doors at 8 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 27
Tickets: $12 in advance
The Magic Bag
22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale
“I feel icky,” says Erin Gibson, self-described “feminasty,” while discussing what topic she won’t talk about on her and “homosensual” Bryan Safi’s irreverent “Throwing Shade” podcast. “I’m having a real hard time discussing campus rape, sex trafficking; it’s hard to interject jokes about that. I don’t know – I feel icky doing it on the show.”
“Anytime I hear some horrible, heinous hate crime, I think I can tackle the root of it – the homophobia – but our podcast has always been comedy first, message second,” adds Safi. For a comedy duo that riffs on the Duggars, abortion, tampon taxation and more, there are very few topics they’ve found to be off limits.
The podcasters, who bring their live and interactive show to the Magic Bag Aug. 27, spoke with BTL while driving through North Carolina to their next tour stop. “It’s really nice, because everything’s alive, and everything in California’s dead,” jokes Gibson. “We can’t wait (for Michigan).”
“I’m going to take 45-minute showers every day,” Safi says.
The California-based comics further discussed what they were expecting when coming to Michigan. Safi, who expressed confusion on the distinction between Detroit and Ferndale on an episode of the podcast, tweeted that it was “sweet, adorable and pathetic” that he didn’t know the difference between the cities. “Listen, I don’t even know the difference between the east side and the west side of Los Angeles,” he says.
Safi, in particular, was “obsessed” with the local-gone-national news story of the affair and the exposed “gay” cover up between State Reps. Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser. “I forgot he was from there!” Safi exclaims when the topic comes up. “Such a ‘Gone Girl’ move. It’s so crazy, like ‘Gay Girl’ instead of ‘Gone Girl.'”
Gibson laughs. “I was kind of impressed. Doesn’t he have a job? That seems like a full-time job … using tax-payer letterhead and computer time.”
“So many lies,” adds Safi.
“This is so tired,” Gibson continues. “All these assholes with this anti-gay, anti-woman rhetoric: they’re monsters. They’re just hiding their evil insides. I’m never shocked when this stuff happens.”
“I do applaud this guy for putting a fresh spin on all of it – very 2015 of them,” snarks Safi.
For those unfamiliar with the podcast, Gibson and Safi describe the process that goes into their highly improvisational, topical show. “We figure out what we want to talk about separately, and then we kind of spring it on each other. Outside of our research, the podcast is 100 percent improvised,” Gibson notes.
“We do about an hour of research,” Safi says. “The (live) show is very different in that it’s about 80 percent set, 20 percent improvised.”
“Our live shows are very energetic,” says Gibson. “We kind of handle it like it’s two-person stand-up. It does follow the format of the podcast, where we do light, pop-culture, prance-around fun. Then we each talk about an issue. And then we play a game at the end called, ‘Would You Rather?’ The audience members write ‘would you rathers’ in a bag and we’ll bring people up and we’ll answer them together. We’ve had a lot about Donald Trump. And it’s usually some terrible sexual situation with him. It’s a way for us to interact with people who are fans of the show.”
“We each tackle an issue,” continues Safi. “I’m, in a nutshell, now that same-sex marriage is legal, talking about how people are trying to tell gay people how they should have their weddings.” Gibson’s topic? “I’m kind of talking about the state of women in STEM careers and the obstacles they’ve had and still have.”
The interactive quality of their live show mimics a set up from the podcast, where guests occasionally come on. “We haven’t had a bad guest, and here’s why,” Gibson remarks, “we choose everybody. We’re not really interested in having someone on who isn’t going to be fun and play around with us.” Safi refers to a recent guest, gay TV personality Ross Mathews: “It’s so much fun to have Ross Mathews come on and just talk about Palm Springs and ‘House Hunters.’ We also just had Richard Lawson on from Vanity Fair. We usually just get people that we know.”
The podcast has reached a surprisingly diverse fanbase, as well. “Joel Stein, a journalist for Time Magazine – I ran into him somewhere and he said, ‘Oh my god, I’m such a fan of the show. You make such good points,'” says Safi, “and I was like, ‘I’m garbage.’ Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone also put us on their Top 15 list for podcasts they listened to this year. It never feels anything but extraordinary.” “And Playboy put us on their Top 10 list, too!,” exclaims Gibson. “I’m flabbergasted that they would put a feminist podcast on their ‘Listen To’ list.”
“Throwing Shade” opens each podcast with the disclaimer that they “take a weekly look at all the issues important to ladies and gays … and treat them with much less respect than they deserve.” That feeling will remain very true during their Ferndale appearance. As Safi says, “We actually take respectful things and make them gross.”