Ron Burgundy is going live in the next season of his iHeartMedia podcast.
Actor Will Ferrell said Thursday at the Podcast Movement conference in Los Angeles that he has begun live-taping performances he is doing in L.A. which will serve at the anchor of The Ron Burgundy Podcast’s forthcoming outing.
“It’s fun to be in front of a live audience with the interaction. It’s been fantastic. You can really feel that people are wanting to see things in a community experience, see live theater, and we’re having the best time,” Ferrell said during a Q&A session with Conal Byrne, CEO of the iHeart Digital Audio Group. The live tapings feature guests who will also appear on the podcast. On Wednesday night, that meant actor Jack Black. An earlier appearance featured an L.A. Opera singer whose career choice confounded Burgundy.
“It’s also a chance for me and my cohost Carolina [Barlow], who is also an amazing comedian, to play off of each other in a live environment,” said Ferrell. “We script some of it -- and we just try to follow the audience. It’s a little bit of a highwire act, but I love it.” A veteran of not just film but also “Saturday Night Live,” Ferrell is no stranger to performing in front of a live audience. “It reminds me of listening to comedy albums as a kid,” he added.
Ferrell launched The Ron Burgundy Podcast in Feb. 2019 and said he saw the series as a way to bring the anchorman character back to life outside the two feature films that have been made so far.
“It was still fun to play the character and it just felt like a perfect fit,” said Ferrell. “Just to be one-on-one in the audio form. And it was a great chance to explore the wildest premises that are really more conducive to listening and falling back on my sketch roots while integrating guests.”
Ferrell’s Big Players Releasing Two More Shows
After completing two seasons of The Ron Burgundy Podcast, Ferrell announced in October 2019 he was teaming up with iHeartMedia to launch the Big Money Players Network. “Most of what you have done with that so far is getting other people launched,” Byrne told him during the Q&A that revealed that trend will continue with its latest launches.
During his Podcast Movement appearance Ferrell announced two new shows that will be coming from his team. The first is called The Big Sexy Interview Show with Michael Bolton. Created by Lonely Island’s Akiva Schaffer and Comedy Bang Bang’s Scott Aukerman, “It will just be Michael Bolton talking,” explained Ferrell.
Big Money Players’ other new show is The Feed. He described it as an “inside baseball” type of series that will feature a group of ten fellow comedians from a wide spectrum of backgrounds. Each will get their own “mini-shows,” some of which will be scripted. It is expected to launch in June.
“You are basically launching an RSS that becomes a stage that you hand over to comedians for weeks at a time,” said Byrne.
Ferrell said his goal was to use Big Money Players Network as a “fun kind of sandbox for everyone to play in” that would also bring a built-in audience to the new podcasts and “give a hand-up” to people with unique voices and different ideas. “It’s fun and thrilling to support these other super-bright, funny people,” he said.
Make The Show For You, Not Them
Unlike his Ron Burgundy character, Ferrell clearly puts a lot of thought into his comedy. And when asked what advice he would give podcasters looking to carve out their own niche, Ferrell offered some unexpected guidance. He said creators should not think entirely about the audience. “Be true to yourself and follow your gut and at the end of the day you are going to find out where your sweet spot is,” he said. “They will come along if you create something that is unique and strong with a singular kind of vision.”
Ferrell also said that if an idea is good enough, creators should “stick to their guns” and be willing to go beyond the confines of audio. “You’re just sort of chopping wood -- it will pay off either right away or down the road,” he said.