Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

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It will end. Then...what will begin? (Thoughts on a podcast's upcoming finale)

I've been thinking. I've had a reason to think: Cort Webber and Bobby Roberts announced just over a week ago that The Cort and Fatboy Show will end on Friday, Dec. 7th with one last live show, performed at the Bagdad, with guests and snark and booze. And then, that's it. No more C&F podcast, no more Midnight Movies. They move on to Step Next in their busy lives.

I got pensive and wistful when I heard that. So have a lot of the people who know, and listen to, them. Theirs has been damn entertaining work. Bobby once made me do a spit-take -- while I was using mouthwash -- where he came up with an alien name and home planet for actress Devon Aoki. They co-hosted an amazing and wild preview screening of Snakes on a Plane that felt like a wrestling match, and I mean that in a good way. I've gotten to know them, off the air. I've seen them be bold, hilarious, maddening, willing to piss people off if it's for a good reason -- and I know them to be thoughtful, committed, smart, warm, and critical. I've rooted for them. And this is making me feel better about them ending this chunk of their linked careers (which are still linked -- they're friends, and they'll keep co-hosting Geek Trivia at the Kennedy School every other Tuesday).

Lots of my fellow listeners are understandably sad, and lamenting the end of what's been, for us, more than a reliable chunk of daily entertainment: it's become a defining show for a lot of Portland geeks. But what, by ending this the two of them would stop doing awesome things? They have years' experience doing (and causing) awesome things; they'll simply do new things in other venues. I'll hope they get paid better to do so. I don't know what (if anything) they've earned from the podcast, but both work regular paying jobs. Gotta have the funds to function.

Cort and Bobby are ending the show and the Midnight Movie screenings while both are still special. Bobby said he wasn't comparing their podcast to the quality of either show, but "We'd rather be Cheers than The Simpsons." They don't want to risk the show just withering away or becoming less satisfying for them and the audience. They don't want to do it just out of habit. They're ending this cleanly, which (as some listeners suggested) reducing to one or two shows a week wouldn't do.

Remember: quitting feels a hell of a lot better than being fired. This keeps their fates in their hands, not really the case back when they worked for the (now-defunct) KUFO. Had their podcast been cancelled by someone, they'd be gone, usually that day -- not getting a month to say "so long and thanks for all the beer." Radio works like that (and did in their case). Their podcast doesn't, and more power to Cort and Bobby for that.

It's also been an art, the way they've chosen a movie a month to show: geek-friendly films that work extra-well on the big screen, that haven't been on the big screen for a while, that (ideally) haven't been played to death on cable, and that (bottom line) would pull at least 300 people into the Bagdad on Friday nights. They've done this for 83 months. Seventy-one movies (since five films were shown twice, and The Big Lebowski was shown seven times). Sometimes in less than ideal conditions: the 35mm print of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was, except for the first reel, strung backwards, so they pulled the plug on the screening*; Jackass: The Movie drew about 75 people; Caddyshack, sadly, didn't really hold up; the KUFO sales staff chose Smokey and the Bandit for them; and drunk idiots heckled Aliens (in a screening I almost went to; I'm so glad that wasn't my first Midnight Movie). They didn't want to fall back on repeating too many films, or going too far afield in their choices. (Or have to keep dealing with cable programmers who apparently, more than once, learned what film Cort and Bobby were going to show and scheduled those films on cable as well.) This gives Cort and Bobby a chance to learn other arts. And this is Portland; we're not exactly hurting for theater revivals. The Hollywood, the Laurelhurst, Cinema 21, the Academy, the Clinton Street... we're good from here.

Notice I'm referring to Cort and Bobby as, well, Cort and Bobby. Bobby's evolving professionally; he doesn't have to be "Fatboy" anymore. That was his nickname since high school, was still his nickname when he won his chance to work with Cort, and "The Cort and Fatboy Show" appealed to the radio station managers. Later, when Bobby started writing for the Portland Mercury, he was listed as Bobby "Fatboy" Roberts; now he's listed as Bobby Roberts. And Bobby Roberts is still a pretty good, striking name for someone with a role in pop culture. He doesn't need a nickname.

Cort and Bobby deserve to do things on their terms, and that's exactly what they're doing. Maybe follow their example? Even though we're losing a couple of awesome things, are we getting the chance -- or maybe it's a more obvious chance -- to do awesome things of our own?

What awesome things could you add?

* Admittedly, if any film of the last 20 years would likely play all right backwards, it's Fear and Loathing, but Cort and Bobby and most definitely the audience (they called it "maybe the drunkest, most altered crowd ever assembled for a Midnight Movie") were NOT in the mood for an experimental film...
Tags: midnight movies, portland, radio

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