Podcasts may be experiencing a renaissance of late thanks to a certain wildly popular true-crime narrative, but for Washingtonian Brandon Wetherbee, their appeal is nothing new. Since 2009 he’s been hosting his live talk show, You, Me, Them, Everybody, in several cities including DC, Chicago, and New York, and has been celebrating its fifth birthday with a special anniversary tour.
If you’re unfamiliar with the show, think the traditional late-night talk show format—comedy, sketches, music—with a less-primetime-friendly twist. “It’s one of the few things I started doing in my twenties that I don’t have to feel ashamed of continuing in my thirties,” says Wetherbee, who is the managing editor of Brightest Young Things. “Plus, as a married man you don’t have a lot of opportunity to meet random people—I like the show because it gives me the chance to meet complete strangers.”
He kicked off the anniversary tour November 22 in Baltimore, then headed to the Windy City for a final appearance at its longtime venue the Hungry Brain, which is closing, and stopped by the Library of Congress for a private event. Before Wednesday evening’s show at Wonderland Ballroom Wetherbee shared a few more things he’s discovered in his five years with YMTE.
On the importance of vetting guests: “I had one guy that I didn’t do a good job researching him as I should have—he wrote a book about horror movies, and it turned out he worked for a website that is blatantly sexist. On the same show I had a competitive eater, a guy who won the Nathan’s hot-dog-eating challenge. Turns out when competitive eaters aren’t eating, they just drink; he got so drunk that I ended up cutting down a 12-minute interview to 90 seconds.”
On the Washington scene: “I came from Chicago four years ago, and the scene there is four to five times bigger—always has been, always will be. There are only so many people who can afford to live here and do anything artistic, and no one comes here to be funny. On the plus side, it’s definitely easier to get a foothold, it’s a solid, supportive scene, and for a city this small, there are a lot of great venues for comedy.”
On how audience expectations change from city to city: “DC audiences are not rambunctious—they’re very polite. You can’t really pander to a DC crowd, because there’s not a lot of hometown pride—unlike New York, where there are lifers. I had Wyatt Cenac on one of my shows in New York, but you can see Wyatt perform every night for free, so no one cares.”
On the anniversary tour so far: “The first three shows were absolutely fantastic; the final Chicago show at the Hungry Brain nearly had me in tears many times. The Library of Congress show was incredibly weird but surprisingly fun—interviewing experts about the Civil Rights movement, the role the Library plays in preserving baseball and football lore, the National Jukebox Registry and Folklife exposed the audience to areas I tend to just mention in passing.
“The Baltimore show was in a packed house. DDM gave the performance of the night—and thus far in the run, it’s hard to top Baltimore hip-hop—and the owners were so happy they ordered pizza for everyone. In my five years of doing this, no one has ever turned an after-party into a pizza party.”
On what to expect from Wednesday’s show: “My DC show will be great because it’s gonna go super-long and will be really music-heavy, with performances by Furniteur and the house band, Typefighter. The ultimate goal is to be like Mr. Rogers, although I have no desire to work with children. At the end of the day, I just think everyone’s cool and I wanna hang out with them—it makes your world and their world smaller.”
See You, Me, Them, Everybody at Wonderland Ballroom Wednesday, December 3, at 7:30 PM. Check the show’s Facebook page for more information.