Originally posted Friday, July 12, 2019 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
There’s the real world. Then there’s Bravo World.
And there are now offshoots of Bravo World including the daily podcast "Watch What Crappens," featuring two friends Ronnie Karam and Ben Mandelker basically cracking each other up picking apart shows such as "Below Deck" and "Southern Charm."
The two friends have now recorded more than 1,000 podcasts over the past seven years and two years ago hitting the road two years ago to do live stage versions for fans. They had two successful shows last year in Atlanta so they are returning October 12 to City Winery Atlanta for two more. (Buy tickets here.)
Podcasters of all stripes in recent years have been able to develop niches enabling them to hit the road, revel in meeting their fans and pocket some extra cash to boot. It’s a win-win for all.
“It’s been this crazy ride,” Ronnie said in an interview today when tickets went on sale for their Atlanta shows. “We’re just these two guys who go on Skype every day and talk crap about ‘Housewives.’ And then we go out a few times a month on these huge stages and it’s really surreal.”
The pair has thrived off the power of the “Real Housewives” franchise and its many many copycats where the lives of wealthy middle-aged women with their often petty arguments have become must-see TV for millions of fans.
It’s our current generation’s soap opera obsession - except the women on these shows are (more or less) playing themselves.
Ronnie said “Housewives” provides a fascinating window into a weird world most of us never partake in. “My mom was a Junior League country club person. She was like these ladies,” he said.
Ben said it’s amusing to “watch people behave badly in supposedly polite society. It’s fascinating. I also think Bravo does an excellent job making these shows. They look good. They don’t feel trashy. They’re edited superbly.” Though critics don’t give the show much love, he thinks “Real Housewives of New York” should get an Emmy nomination for unstructured reality series.
On "Watch What Crappens," the pair mocks the show characters out of pure love. They do absurd voice impressions of some of the cast. They create inside jokes. They parry about for 50 to 90 minutes at a stretch like they're gabbing away at a bar and the listeners are hanging out with them.
“We drive inside jokes into the ground with smiles on our faces,” Ronnie said.
The live shows, Ben said, are “super high energy. Everyone is so excited to come see us. A huge part of it is being in a room with your people. Podcasts are like lightning rods for building communities. These days, everyone is watching something else. There are hardly any water-cooler shows anymore. Podcasts help people rally around one area of interest. We have groups in various cities that meet up in the Bay area, in the Pacific Northwest, in Baltimore.”
When Bravo fans find out what they do, they latch on to them like leeches. He was recently at a bank and when an employee found out what he did, he ended up spending 90 minutes gabbing about Bravo shows with her.
And get this: the pair has never met or talked to Andy Cohen, the mastermind behind "Housewives" and its various spin-offs and cousins like "Married to Medicine" or "Vanderpump Rules."
“We’ve met a lot of people from the show over the years,” said Ronnie. “But not Andy. Part of our job is making fun of it. We don’t ever seek out those relationships. Its’ harder when you become friendly to go in on somebody. The second we stop going on somebody, the listeners will revolt.”
They have also never met any of the Atlanta housewives. They are happy Kenya Moore is coming back, not fans of the current rendition of NeNe Leakes. They also loved how Claudia Jordan during her single season was able to take on NeNe and wondered why she only lasted a single season.
“Kenya is crazy and always up to no good,” Ben said. “But she does it so well. When she wasn’t on last season, we felt it. It was pretty slow until she showed up at the end. ‘Oh, thank God!’”
Ronnie added: “If NeNe is going to stay on the show, I’m definitely down with Kenya coming on. NeNe needs to be taken down a few notches. Kenya is always game.”
“Watch What Crappens Live”
7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., Saturday, October 12, 2019
City Winery Atlanta
Ponce City Market
650 North Avenue NE, Atlanta