Have you ever thought about what the everyday residents of Elm Street thought as Freddie Kruger ravaged some of their neighbors dreams? How about how some random traveler experienced the events from Red Eye? How would you react if you were a resident of Amity Island (Amitian?) when Jaws killed some swimmers? This is the premise behind My Neighbords are Dead, an improvised comedy podcast exploring the lives of some of the lesser-known people from your favorite horror films.
Some of my favorite horror movies have comedic aspects interwoven into the dialogue and plot. Think the Scream franchise, or more recently, Get Out. The comedy and levity might strengthen the scary moments with the contrast. Comedy is integral to a lot of horror movies, and because of this, it almost seems relatively natural that there’s a comedy podcast about horror movies and settings.
My Neighbors are Dead is downright hilarious. Even if you aren’t the biggest scary movie fan, this is a comedy podcast you should add to your lineup. The improv is full of quick wit, and their guests are a who’s who of comedians, including Discover Pods’ Podcaster Mount Rushmore inductee Paul F. Tompkins.
I got a chance to meet one of the producers for My Neighbors are Dead, Nate DuFort, and ask him about the podcast, where they came up with the premise, and even tried to sneak my own Purge-related pitch in. Below is our Q&A.
Discover Pods: What’s your podcast about?
Nate: Join host Adam Peacock as he talks to the lesser known characters from your favorite horror films
DP: What’s unique about your podcast?
Nate: The show is the first of its kind blending top notch comedic performers (Bojack Horseman’s Paul F. Tompkins, The Good Place’s Marc Evan Jackson, The Opposition with Jordan Klepper’s Tim Baltz to name a few) with the horror films we know and love.
DP: Improvising the lesser know characters of horror films, quite a unique premise. Where’d it come from?
Nate: Host Adam Peacock is a longtime friend from our days at The Second City comedy theatre. We knew we wanted to work together and the show came from a few weeks of brainstorming collaborative pitches for each other. We both love film, but knew the world wasn’t begging for another show with two white guys reviewing new releases, so when Adam threw out the idea combining our genre film fandom with pulling in our friends from the world of comedy we both lit up. We improvised a few pilots to prove comedy and horror would make a great pairing in this medium and were impressed with the results.
DP: You did a live episode briefly including The Purge. I think there’s more to explore with the premise, including how weird work would be the next day when your boss or whoever died the night before. Are future Purge-focused episodes in the works? Please? (I wrote a similar article awhile ago here)
Nate: Kevin, I love your take in this article and honestly it is the conversation of “what happens now” that was instrumental to us wanting to start My Neighbors Are Dead. The Purge is a great example of a franchise that can be re-invented just by looking through a different lens, but you’re right, even with the third film in the series taking a shift into at politics they are still pulling the lowest hanging fruit in answering to the supposed wants of a horror fanbase. Horror, like science fiction, has historically been a great platform to comment on the political and social issues facing society and recent films like Get Out show that audiences are hungry for a smarter commentary. We don’t have any plans currently to re-visit the Purge franchise, but the great thing about the specificity of our characters and their experience is that we can go back to revisit franchises and even films themselves and get an entirely fresh take from another character with a different point of view on that films events.
DP: How are you able to book such renown guests?
Nate: The short answer is that we are incredibly lucky in having such talented friends. The comedy community is pretty tight and even if we don’t know someone personally, we have been fortunate that someone in our immediate circle does. One example is that we asked friends Tim Baltz and Tawny Newsome who were on a television show called Bajillion Dollar Propertie$ to record episodes with us. It was Tawny who suggested their Bajillion co-star Paul F. Tompkins for an episode as she had been improvising with his podcast Spontaneanation and thought he would fit in to our style of humor. It was a blast to do and has helped significantly in helping us line up some future guests.
DP: Who’s your ideal guest and what role would they play?
Nate: We love our fellow nerds and have often discussed how our dream guests would be Felicia Day or Patton Oswalt given their well documented genre fandom. While the best guests are those that come in with films that they are passionate about, I would love to see some more John Carpenter films in the mix – perhaps a survivor from the Norwegian camp in The Thing or someone that had to clean up the underground rubble in Big Trouble in Little China.
DP: What advice would you give to prospective podcasters out there?
Nate: Look to others for inspiration, but ultimately be yourselves and stay away from imitation. It is so easy to relax into copying others work, be it format, tone or even subject matter, but the most successful shows I’ve heard are the ones whose voice is unique even if it takes time to get there. Do you and your audience will appreciate the authenticity making it a more rewarding experience for all involved.
DP: Why did you choose to start podcasting?
Nate: I had a background in radio and voice acting and was exploring getting back into audio when the huge wave of comedy podcasts hit. Given the years Adam and I had spent surrounding ourselves with funny people, it felt like the timing was perfect to jump in. We love the intimacy of the medium, that a good portion of the audience listens with headphones and how that almost puts them in the room with us. For comedy, being able to have that instant connection makes all of the difference in an audience trusting us to take them on an oftentimes ridiculous journey.
DP: What’s the biggest challenge you face as an indie podcaster?
Nate: It’s been said so may times before, but the largest hurtle for independent producers is discovery. Audiences are savvy and will eventually find what they like, but they are obviously going to be more willing to accept and subscribe to a new show from a trusted source like an established name or network. For us specifically, we had to embrace how niche we were – what percentage of a horror audience would embrace comedy? And what percentage of a comedy audience would embrace a horror podcast? Once we accepted those realities, it made it much easier to focus our marketing efforts.
DP: What are your top five favorite podcasts?
Nate: It’s so difficult to narrow it down to five as I think I’m subscribed to over a hundred at the moment, but I regularly listen to a healthy mix of comedy, narrative fiction and experimental storytelling with some journalism and history mixed in. I’m obsessed with Reply All and Love+Radio, really respect the production approach and performances on The Truth, can’t explain how Dan Carlin makes hours pass in what feels like seconds listening to Hardcore History, and think Jonathan Goldstein’s Heavyweight is regularly one of the most rewarding listening experiences out there. I’ll also listen to any show Britany Luse is attached to.
DP: Anything else you’d like to add?
Nate: We have upcoming trips to both L.A. and Toronto in the works for some surprise guests that are sure to delight both horror and comedy fans. Subscribe now so you don’t miss them.
DP: Where can listeners find you?