The Interview: Nobodies In New York
Interview by Michael Raver
With the rise of podcasts in the last few years, it’s possible to find a show about pretty much anything. Brothers Tim and Alex Stewart have capitalized on their experience as auditioning actors, as well as avid theater lovers, to fuel their own podcast, Nobodies In New York. The hour-plus long episodes also touch on a bevy of other topics, including food, art, subway hijinks, and discussion about the joys and perils of life in The Big Apple. Arguably though, one of the biggest draws of the show are the interviews with stage luminaries, which has included the likes of Robyn Hurder (Moulin Rouge) and Robert Cuccioli (Jekyll and Hyde).
The show also touches on some serious topics as well, addressing the disappointment of auditions gone wrong, the anxiety of making ends meet, jealousy when friends book jobs, and even the challenge of forming lasting relationships in New York. But it’s not a therapy session…not really. And it’s anything but heavy. Nobodies keeps things light, allowing for humor to be the best medicine for what just pulled the rug out.
What prompted you to start this podcast?
We had discussed the idea of starting a podcast for a long time now. Both of us are fans of podcasts, and also love to talk! When we were kids we used to record a fake radio show on cassette tapes on our boom box! We thought a podcast would be a great way to create our own original content. In the performing and fine arts industries, we talk a lot about how important it is to take control and create your own art. If you aren’t booking work, why not make your own work? We figured this would be a fun way to do that.
Additionally, we wanted to create a source of “guidance” (although often times tongue and cheek or comically critical) for people with an interest in moving to New York. We had a lot of funny, annoying, interesting, disgusting stories, experiences, run-ins and life hacks. We wanted to share them.
We also wanted to gear the show toward people who are already living in New York. Most of our listeners live here in NYC. They’ve told us that they love hearing something they can relate to, whether it be a story of being crammed next to a crazy person on the subway, the grind of audition season, the best restaurants in town and everything in between.
How would you describe your show?
As we say at the top of each episode, we are a “podcast about the life, times, trials, and tribulations of life in the Big Apple, baby[…] And other ramblings. Mostly food [and] musical theatre.” Having said that, we are also very much a comedy talk show. We fall into the category of Theatre Podcast and are proud to be a part of the Onstage Blog Network. We have two theatre-related segments we do weekly. The first is “Let’s Talk About Broadway” which is our opportunity to share Broadway news, or talk about the shows that we have recently seen. The second segment in the theatre category is our interview. Every episode, we interview someone who is somehow involved in theatre. Sometimes our guest is a Broadway star, and sometimes it someone just trying to pound the pavement. No matter who the guest is, they always have a wonderful unique perspective and valuable insight to share!
…also fart jokes.
What is it about podcasts that appeal to you?
I love listening to people talk! Alex and I were raised listening to talk radio in the car every morning. These days, a podcast is really a talk radio show that you can custom fit to your interests, no matter how niche.
For me, I love being able to turn off my brain and listen to someone else’s stream-of-thought; something that distracts me from the hustle and bustle of “New Yorking” and “adulting”. If I can learn something or, even better, laugh at it, I’m sold. The best places for that, the subway and the gym.
What podcasts are you listening to these days?
We both love “My Brother, My Brother and Me” and Tim got me turned on to “Serial” and “S-Town”.
Additionally, “RuPaul’s What’s the Tee with Michelle Visage.” I like to listen to their interviews to get good question ideas. I also love the NPR podcasts like “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” “The Moth,” and “RadioLab.” I also love “Women of the Hour,” “Making Gay History,” “The Sporkful,” and “Shmanners”.
What makes a good podcast?
I think a show is one that knows its audience and specifically focuses their program toward those listeners. The first question we had to ask ourselves when we started our was: “who are our listeners going to be?” When we pick our material for each episode with our producer, Alex Ringler, our priority is: “will this be consistent with what our target audience is interested in?” Structure is so important in a show, and when you’re dealing with comedy, it’s crucial that we have those guidelines and checkpoints to go by. “My Brother, My Brother and Me” is a perfect example of that. Otherwise, the show is just a couple of randos who like the sound of their own voices. We strive for the same balance of structure, consistency, and, most important, play.
Exactly right. To have a good podcast you really have to be willing to take risks and “play in the space.” Make jokes! Tell stories! It doesn’t matter if they end up working or not. That’s what the editing process is for. You also have to be willing to play along with your partner/team. If hosts are constantly killing each other’s jokes or contradicting one another, it makes for a really terrible show. You have to “yes, and.” I also have to agree that the editing process is monumental in creating a good, clean show. The addition of sound effects, background music, getting clean takes of dialogue is all so important to the quality of the show. Even if you’re making fart jokes, you should still be professional.
How does New York factor into the topics you discuss?
New York is definitely our brand.
Daily life in New York can be so tough. Not just for artists. We can identify with everyone else who tries to make this city work for them. That’s also why we try to interview all types of actors, from Broadway stars to improv artists. We are ALL in this and no matter what our age, skill set, or success, we are all (or were at some point) just “Nobodies in New York.” See what I did there?
What do you want your listeners to walk away with?
The biggest compliment I have gotten regarding the podcast so far is that people feel like they are actually sitting with us while we are recording; like we are all just hanging out like friends. I love that! I wanna make people laugh of course, but I also want to validate, through all of our segments, that you are not alone in this city. “this” is hard on all of us, or isn’t it annoying when “this” happens, or don’t wanna cry when “this” happens all of a sudden, or how gross is “this.” But that can be negative, so I like it to be done with humor. Additionally, “this” show changed my life, “this” actor’s performance brought me to tears, “this” restaurant has the best chili cheese tots, “this” restaurant’s ranch dressing reminds me of home. The important stuff.
5 Questions With The Brothers Stew
Favorite New York Landmark:
Tim: The New Amsterdam Theatre
Alex: The Metropolitan Museum
First Show You Saw:
Tim: A CHORUS LINE at Music Circus
Alex: FOOTLOOSE at River City Theatre Company in Sacramento
Last Show You Saw:
Tim – FROZEN
Alex – DEAR EVAN HANSEN
Favorite Interview So Far:
Tim – I really couldn’t say! Everyone brings something interesting to the table and everyone has been a lot of fun to talk to!
Alex– It’s impossible to say! We choose who we interview carefully and I think that everyone we have brought on has added something awesome to the show. I have to say, though, I did particularly enjoy drinking tequila and diet Pepsi with Robyn Hurder in my living room.
Person You’d Like To Interview But Haven’t Yet:
Tim – Bernadette Peters
Alex– Tony Yazbeck (it’s gonna happen though!)