You’ve got to separate the wheat from the chaff. The men from the boys. The gravy from the spoon. The undies from the … oven? Whatever. The point is, there comes a time in every podcast’s life when it needs to stand on top of a mountain and decide what it’s going to be. Shitshow didn’t just come screaming into the world without purpose. Instead, hosts Gus and Rig knew exactly what kind of beast they wanted to harness, and with a name like that, they also knew exactly how to find their audience (and who to avoid).
“The whole thing’s definitely a juggling act,” Rig happily confesses. “You feel like a man with too many straws and too many spinning plates. It’s one of those deals where you just try to make the time to accommodate the podcast, but it’s something that we really do enjoy doing with one another. We enjoy each other’s company, and hanging shit on everyone who deserves it.”
We had no fucking idea what we were doing
“Yeah, that’s pretty spot on,” Gus agrees. “To be honest, it is a serious strain on both of our romantic relationships to do the juggle. My wife is used to batshit crazy now though. Also, poor Rig has been sucker punched in agreeing to record in my basement, so I literally only have to take ten steps to record.”
“Basement is a bit generous. More like a dungeon.”
“You’re fucked mate, it’s great!” Gus laughs indignantly. “As I’ve said before, when you buy your recording equipment, then we’ll record wherever the fuck you like.”
“As the French say, douche,” Rig concedes.
For the uninitiated, Shitshow is a weekly podcast that kind of plays out like a combination talk show, history lesson, and improv comedy night. Though a fairly fresh addition to the podcast landscape, it’s already found itself scores of dedicated fans and there’s every sign it will keep gaining momentum as the months wheel on. That’s not bad for a partnership that began as shits-and-giggles footy commentary.
“We both met playing at a fairly low level for Sydney Uni Aussie Rules Club,” Rig says. “We were mates, but the radio and podcast connection started because we were live commentating some of our home games. We would play in one of the lower grade matches in the morning, then set up a PA and commentate the rest live.
It’s extremely clear to us that we’re those lucky bastards that seem to roll into a casino just after everyone’s lost their money
“It developed from there into a podcast when the Rio Olympics rolled around. I’d always wanted to do an Olympics-themed podcast, and we jumped in feet-first into the dead set fuck-show that was the Rio Olympics. It was a podcast called Medallica: Minnows vs The World, which was flipping the Olympics on its head and only focusing on countries that had never won a medal. The Rio Olympics was an organisational clusterfuck, which meant a lot of good content came out of it, [like] a segment called ‘Apocalympics Now’. Triple j got wind of it, and all of a sudden we’re on Matt & Alex In The Morning, and it went onwards and upwards from there.”
“Bearing in mind all of that, we also had no fucking idea what we were doing,” Gus adds. “It’s extremely clear to us that we’re those lucky bastards that seem to roll into a casino just after everyone’s lost their money and somehow put cash on the right roulette wheel. At the same time, my wife was very clear that ‘Poos In The News’ is the worst thing that I’ve ever done. It’s unfathomable that most people that provide feedback on the show say how great that is. I don’t get it. It’s Rig’s legacy, it’s made me think less of him. It’s the shit that keeps on shitting.”
Medallica was the podcast equivalent of improv comedy, if the comedy wasn’t very good or improvised
‘Poos In The News’ is but one (hehe) of several segments that comprise the show. There’s ‘One Star Reservoir’, ‘Trainwreck’… The secret to all of them, though, is that while the format is fixed (for now, at least), both hosts have no idea what the other is bringing to the show. Their respective research is a surprise, and while the whole show comes across as organic, there’s actually quite a lot of work that goes into carving out what shape it ultimately takes each episode.
“When we did Medallica, it was learning by doing. It was the podcast equivalent of improv comedy, if the comedy wasn’t very good or improvised,” Rig laughs. “The hardest thing you can do in a podcast is have a segmented show that can keep you going until, essentially, infinity. We workshopped with family and friends, just to make sure.
“As they say, true friends stab you in the front, so they’ll tell you when your shit does stink, and at the beginning they did not pull any punches. And you know, a lot of people don’t have the attention span to keep hanging on a story for half an hour. Even if you’re listening to Serial or something like that, there are breaks with music, and those annoying Squarespace ads. They have stuff to break it up. So we wanted a podcast that was digestible but had a common theme running through.”
“People often say the podcast is really funny and that they’ll learn a couple of things, and that’s about what I want,” Gus says. “You want to be entertained, you want some water-cooler stuff, you want a story to take away, and you want a laugh. We’re not really conscious of how we do a lot of the stuff we do. There’s a lot of research that goes into it, because otherwise you’re just under-prepared, but we rely a lot on the chemistry between the two of us. Neither of us has heard what the other will say. So there’s a huge amount that’s just left to the hosts, and that part is dangerous. There’ll eventually be a podcast where we’re both super off, and that’s probably when we’ll get canned.”
“We looked at [Shitshow],” Gus continues, “and thought we had a pretty good bead on how our generation thinks; we kind of see how people have done things that haven’t worked, and that’s generally alienating certain groups. And we figured we’d probably alienate someone eventually, so we should get that done with at the start.
“I mean, dude, the podcast is called Shitshow. It’s uncensored, it’s explicit, it has some low-brow elements but it is essentially a mix a current affairs and comedy and history. It appeals to that 20 to 40 demographic who are the exact people who are consuming podcasts at the moment. In ten years we’re probably fucked, but we’ll sort that out then. We’re kind of riding the wave, and it’s a really fun thing to do.”
“There’s definitely a bit of the chip on the old block there,” Rig muses.
“’Chip on the block’ is not a saying, Rig.” They both burst into laughter.
“It was very much a chip on the shoulder attitude of, we don’t care, we’re doing this for us,” Rig says. “As far as Shitshow goes, we can see that going in its current iteration. We made sure it had legs. But we’re also not ruling anything out.”