• James Hewlett

The New Line-Up

I’m a big fan of Rooster Teeth, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s spent more than one or two hours with me or read anything I’ve put out.

I’ve been following the Austin based production house since they were a five man team working out of a tiny make-shift office producing one show that was pretty much just bobbing the heads of Halo characters and putting witty dialogue over the top of it.

In the over fifteen years since, they have grown and then actually pared back a little and have gone through lots of incarnations.

One of the newer things they’ve focused on this year and going back to the end of last year in fact, is a renewed focus on audio podcasts.

The Drunk Tank was their first foray into podcasting back in 2009 and that show then evolved into The Rooster Teeth Podcast, a general chat show with a semi regular cast but often rotating members of the studio. It’s a broad overview of the whole company and always a lot of fun, you know what kind of thing you’re going to get with it. There are many other mainstays as well such as Off Topic, Dude Soup and until recently Always Open.

The thing with all of these shows is they are produced essentially as TV shows, in pre-pendemic times this meant in the studio, on a bespoke set with multiple cameras and a whole broadcast crew behind the scenes.

As with everything Rooster Teeth have always done each of these shows has focused on being funny, even if they are more informative it is always with an air of comedy about it.

The newer shows I’m going to talk about today have stripped all of that back and are just made for audio only, that means it is just the hosts and maybe one or at most two people off mic producing the show, a lovely benefit to working for a production house that most podcasters don’t have the luxury of. They are also branching out in terms of content. None of them are dark or dower, but they’re not afraid of tackling serious topics and themes. They’re branching out and hopefully picking up a broader audience they they ever have before in the process.

Most of these shows are recorded in one of the office spaces they have at the studio, in normal times that is, at the moment they’re all done via video-chat from their own homes with one exception, so let’s start with that one.

Face Jam is, well quite frankly it is ridiculous and hilarious. When initially pitched the hosts wanted to call it the ‘Michael, Jordan Podcast’ based on their names. Legal thought it might not be the best idea so they opted to go with a play on the famous basketball players movie and call it Face Jam.

The premise of the podcast is that each episode they eat, discuss and rate a limited or unique item from a restaurant or fast food joints menu. I say thats the premise because while they do do that, it is more about the humour and back and forth between the hosts and producer Eric than it is about the food itself. Many of the episodes at the moment are recorded in their cars in the parking lot of wherever they’ve got food which just adds to the hilarity.

Good Morning From Hell is a semi-improvised comedy show in the style of a breakfast radio show. The hosts are playing characters, Chris as a version of himself who has died recently and been sent to hell where his punishment is to host the show with Clayton, played by Blaine, who is the younger brother of Satan. He’s a doofus but thinks a lot higher of himself than anyone else. Each episode they interview a famous person, living or dead from history played by another member of the RT staff or extended community. I have to admit that while I enjoyed the show I have dropped off from listening weekly as the schtick had run a little dry for me. I still highly recommend it though.

Black Box Down is a much more serious show and also features Chris. In this one he is much more the audience surrogate as Gus discusses the aviation incident they are covering that week. The show is presented in a similar way to many true-crime podcasts and talks about different incidents throughout the years. It is mutinously researched and they go over what happened, what caused it or was the blame, the ramifications and what has happened or been introduced since. It is a fascinating look at a topic many people see a headline for but don’t ever know much more than that.

They are very diligent in saying they are by no means aviation experts, just curious parties about the subject and are just laying out the facts in a way that makes for a very intriguing podcast.

F*ck Face is the most typical Rooster Teeth podcast in the traditional sense. Geoff Ramsey is one of the founders of the company and has had a longterm friendship and working relationship with the other hosts Gavin and Andrew. This show is simply three friends talking about stories they have of one another messing with each other, themselves and others and how it frequently has back fired and therefore ‘fuckfaced’ themselves in the process. It is extremely funny and relies heavily on the joy the three of them have for talking to each other and recounting stories old and new.

Red Web is the most recent new release and after just one episode has a chance of being my favourite of the new line up. Much like Black Box Down, Red Web is presented in a serious manner and has much more in common with a true crime show than anything else produced by RT.

Host Trevor presents a piece of internet lore or mystery to audience stand-in Alfredo and they go through the story, crime or conspiracy, most of which are still unsolved mysteries. The first episode was gripping and told a story I had no idea about previously but feels like it should have been major news or adapted into a Hollywood blockbuster. I cannot wait to see what the next episodes bring.

I love seeing a company I’ve followed for years branching out and doing something different. I’m even more happy to see them successful in doing that. There are other shows they’ve begun that I’ve not mentioned because the subject matter isn’t particularly interesting to me but if they’re half as good as any I have just mentioned I’m sure they’re great. If you’re looking for a new listen I’d recommend you take a look at the slate of podcasts from Rooster Teeth… after you’ve listened and caught up with Lonely Boiz Meets World.

©2017 by James Hewlett.