Tuesday, August 16, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 313

Cabana's run at the Fringe Festival starts this week
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
If you’re new, here’s the rundown. We listen to a handful of wrestling podcasts each week. Too many, probably, though certainly not all of them. In the interest of saving you time — in case you have the restraint to skip certain episodes — the plan is to give the bare bones of a given show and let you decide if it’s worth investing the time to hear the whole thing. There are many wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but this feature largely hews to the regular rotation we feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If we can save other folks some time, we’re happy to do so.

Show: Art Of Wrestling
Episode: 313
Run Time: 1:01:13
Guest: John Hastings (5:55); Chris Gethard (17:08); Joe Hendry (31:25); Brendon Burns (46:00)

Summary: It’s August, and Colt Cabana is live (on (digital) tape) from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His first guest, Hastings, a comedian and podcaster, riffs on Eugene, Vince McMahon’s incontinence issues and bad wrestler gear. Gethard talks about rooming with and hitting the gym alongside Cabana, as well as Cabana’s appearance on Gethard’s TV show. He also revisits his childhood wrestling fandom. Hendry, one half of the ICW tag team champions, discusses his career track, memorable entrances, musical background, amateur wrestling efforts and stints as a Rosebud. Comedian Burns starts by asking Hendry a few questions, then goes on about the fringe and the connection between wrestling and comedy, both in performers and crowds.

Quote of the week: Burns: “It’s the same art form. It is! Because they adapt what they’re doing based upon the audience response — no other art form does that, except for ours. It’s love from strangers. When you’re starting out as an open mic-er, you go through brutal humiliation for the hope of love from strangers. When you’re a jobbing, beginning — a jobber wrestler, you go through physical torment to get love from strangers … Let’s face it, none of it is the product of good parenting! … You have high spots and finishes, we have bits and closers, it’s very, it’s becoming more and more apparent to comedians and wrestlers that we’re effectively the same people.”

Why you should listen: Hendry and Burns were easily the more interesting guests, though in fairness to Gethard I’m a sucker for any story about a kid’s collarbone breaking as a result of his brother performing a Stinger Splash. Hendry seems like a fascinating guy with both an interesting background and a promising future. If you read about Bill Burr’s two-part appearance on the Steve Austin Show but didn’t have time to dig deeply there, Burns offers much the same insight in a seriously condensed package.

Why you should skip it: Cabana booked this one like a wrestling show, trying to open with some seriously high energy, but I’m not entirely sure Hastings is as funny as he seems to think. And even when his jokes do land, they still take away time from Hendry, who really deserves his own episode. The other guests are much more suited for this approach.

Final thoughts: My critiques of Cabana’s live shows tend to be predictable: too much forced humor, not enough deep conversation with the interesting guests. I give him credit for working hard on making the podcast version relevant for people who can’t see the shenanigans in the room and especially for cutting the intentional comedy segments, but ultimately we’re here at the outset of a week of Fringe shows, and it’s going to be much the same as prior years. Obviously it’s a lot to ask of Cabana to continue to produce regular shows while he’s in this environment, but I can’t help thinking we’d all be better off with one “Best Of The Fringe” episode to give a flavor of the experience and a few more regular interviews with folks he’s only likely to encounter while working in Scotland. Maybe next year.