As part of long-running The Improvised Musical (aka T.I.M.) and a variety of other ComedySportz productions, Jacob Bach has honed his ability to pulls laughs out of audience-inspired unfamiliarity. Having a firm grasp on improv and performing as part of a group, he recently added another personal challenge to his body of work. He started a podcast. No, the idea of someone with a background in comedy beginning a podcast isn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff. However, his show’s concept is. In short, Yeah, Bro!—which releases new episodes every Monday—is billed as “the podcast where straight men talk about gay things.” On each episode, Bach (who is openly gay) invites straight guests to discuss a topic that he (the host) considers to be significant in LGBT culture with the hope both parties and the listeners alike will learn something by show’s end.
Guests in the first 17 episodes have ranged from fellow comic performers and musicians to scout leaders and web-only publication co-founders. Saturday night, Bach will bring Yeah, Bro! to ComedySportz for a special live episode with three drastically different guests. Before he talks to actor Nick Young, 88Nine radio personality Justin Barney, and model/professional volleyball player Kyle Ullsperger about gay things, Milwaukee Record asked Bach about Yeah, Bro!’s origin, his affinity for the straight male perspective, and what he’s learned from the host’s seat.
Milwaukee Record: What led to you start the podcast?
Jacob Bach: I had been working on The Improvised Musical for close to four years at that point, and I have been working at ComedySportz since 2007, so I’ve always been working collaboratively with a bunch of people. I’ve always been working on a lot of long-term projects that I know fairly well at this point, so I wanted a new personal challenge, and I wanted a new format. I knew I didn’t want it to be an improv show or in front of an audience. I’m big podcast junkie and I’d been batting a couple ideas around before finally coming across the idea for Yeah, Bro!
MR: And you landed on that idea because—unless I’m wrong—you hang out with mostly straight men in your personal life.
JB: Yes, I’ve always hung out with straight guys. Just the cultural difference in vernacular or the common interests, I mean, gay is a culture in an of itself, and just explaining gay culture to straight identifying men is hilarious to watch on their face. It’s a completely different world within the world they live.
MR: Over the course of 17 episodes, is there anything you learned about either yourself or that maybe there aren’t all that many differences between gay dudes and straight dudes?
JB: I’ve learned that I don’t know everything about gay culture. I spend about two hours of research going into every episode, and there are a lot of things—like when I did my conversion therapy episode—that I knew very little about. Even when I did the Boy Scout episode, which is probably the most personal one to me, I didn’t know the history of the ban or different instances that led up to it. The other thing I learned is there are more cultural differences than sexual differences among straight and gay men. Besides that, you’re always learning about shit. The history of LGBT culture itself is horrific, and beautiful, and always evolving. People don’t realize that it goes as far as the holocaust. It goes back to the Salem witch trials. It goes back to the beginning of time.
MR: As I know from experience, every show a major bullet point or one main theme. Do you ever worry that you’re going to run out of topics?
JB: You just caught me an hour after I was stressing about topics. I have a notebook full of things I want to do. I just have lists of things. I get really worried that I’m going to run out, but I’ve noticed that the more specific I can get with an episode, the more topics I can get out of it. I constantly have to remind myself to not be afraid to go into detail with my overall topic. There’s always something new to say.
MR: What has the response been so far? Are you shocked at the people you’re reaching, the age range?
JB: Yeah, as far as I can tell, I reach a lot more straight people than gay people. I do reach a lot of straight identifying men and I reach a lot of older gay men. I think because it’s an outlet for straight people to learn. For older gay men, I think I am a younger perspective, but I’m coming from a place where I want the advancement of LGBT culture. Granted, I have a wide variety of people listening, at least from the information I can see on my RSS feed. The topic of each episode also brings in different demographics.
MR: The live episodes probably help you get an idea of who listens, too. Your first one was at Pridefest, and you’re doing another one this weekend at ComedySportz, your home turf. Explain why you booked these guests. You have Nick Young, who is an actor from Glee and Ted 2. You have 88Nine’s own Justin Barney, and then Kyle Ullsperger, a model and volleyball player. That seems like a wide range.
JB: Nick and I grew up together in the dance studio that his mom owned. He’s moved to L.A. and he’s coming back to town to teach some classes. We’ve been trying to get our schedules worked out to get him to do the podcast. He’s one of my favorite people. I’ve known him since I was in third grade. Justin Barney and I went to grade school together and he and I have recently reconnected. Kyle I had in improv workshops at ComedySportz, and I told him since day one, “You are distractingly good looking.” Then I found out that he’s a model and a professional volleyball player and he’s great, hilarious, and super-nice. The guys all give a flavor of different things. The format of this one is different than the usual Yeah, Bro! We have three different segments, and the guys will be on the stage with the entire time. It will just be a big conversation that I’m hosting, and it’ll be interesting to see how it goes. They’ll be great. I’m more nervous about how well I’ll do at this point.
Jacob Bach’s next Yeah, Bro! live episode recording will take place at ComedySportz on Saturday, August 22. The show begins at 11:50 p.m. and costs $10. Reservations can be made by calling 414-272-8888.