Written by Melinda Wittstock.
Ever wonder how wildly different our world would be right now if Donald Trump had lost the 2016 election? If you appreciate theoretical physics, there IS a parallel universe somewhere in which Hillary Clinton is president, and no matter your political perspective, there is a lot to laugh about on the satirical comedy BS de Resistance.
Hosts Lyssa Graham and Dale Leopold spent election night 2016 distraught and horrified. Late that night, they found themselves commiserating on the phone and decided they had to do something. “It was very Judy Garland: ‘I have a barn; we’ll put on a show. We’ll save the town,” says Graham.
“It was as much an actor’s dream to do our own thing as it was a mental health project for listeners in 47 states and 38 countries” says Leopold. “And our cast,” Graham chimes in.
Every political satire needs a superhero, so Graham’s then four-year-old son, Jake, became “The Purple Avenger” that night as they dreamt up the deliriously immersive comedy about a Texas mom and her son being unwittingly drawn into shadowy struggles deep, deep, deep in the “Deep State.”
“We knew that we might initially be broadcasting only for our friends, and we knew that our friends loved ‘The Purple Avenger,’” says Graham, a voiceover artist across movies, animations, television, and commercials. “He has his own little Facebook following amongst our circle of very weird people. So, we thought we would hook them by using something familiar, and fortunately, Jake provides endless amounts of material.”
Co-host Dale Leopold says a lot of the dialog lines in this semi-scripted and improvised comedy satire come directly from little Jake, even though he is played by someone else.
BS de Resistance has a large cast of characters culled from the world of voiceover artistry and standup comedy. “We rounded up our friends and offered them this glorious opportunity to work for no money at all, but promised it would be fun. They bit, falling for it hook, line, and sinker. Now, they are having fun, and other people are like, ‘When do I get a spot on your show?’” says Graham.
Adds Leopold: “Because we have this network of voiceover friends, and they can record themselves professionally, we know that it’s going to be good. And if there’s a certain skill or accent or whatever that we need for a given episode, we say, ‘Oh, French. We can call Liz in New York.’ It’s sort of like The A-Team, or the Dirty Dozen, putting these people together.”
President Trump has been a challenge for many people, most notably satirists and comedians, because he has a tendency to go beyond even their wildest imaginings. Graham says there have been a number of occasions when Trump’s “Twitterings” have “lapped past the writer’s room” even when they’ve written something they thought “would never happen.”
“Well,” says Leopold, “we were ahead with the nukes to the Saudis.”
Tune in to this parallel universe with fast-paced dialogue, crazy accents, and plenty of F-bombs to hear about Hillary’s “Bunny Gate,” catch up with the “Civility Fairy,” and/or listen to double agent Rick Perry, secretly working for The Resistance (only when he has his smart glasses on).
Graham and Leopold collaborate to write BS de Resistance before they invite their entire cast to Zoom to add a layer of improvisation.
“Sometimes, it gets a little insane, because everybody is having fun, and then it’s too much,” says Graham. “Improv actors and improv comics, our entire ethos is summed up with, ‘Throw the ball. Throw the ball. Just throw the ball.’”
Then Leopold goes to work on all the professionally recorded tracks, picks the best takes, and edits all the sound effects. He also writes all the lyrics to the original songs in each episode, and musical director Chris Mezzolesta does the melody and arrangement.
The troupe has fallen into a common trap that catches many podcasters who have a loyal tribe, but not necessarily business or marketing experience—they simply don’t know how to monetize. As of now, they publish every three weeks, and says Leopold, “If we were making money, we would do it more often.”
As much fun as they’re having with BS de Resistance (which is now on the interactive Podopolo podcast network, where they can finally make some money for their efforts), Graham and Leopold say they’re dreaming up a new project.
“We’re taking that same crazy nonsense and applying it to cozy mysteries. Think Murder, She Wrote, except with the same batsh*t crazy stuff and young people in a miniseries format,” says Graham.
If Trump is a one-term president, BS de Resistance may meet the same fate… although a President Biden may be just as much fun.
“We have a plan for our final episode of BS de Resistance, when we rotate into President Pelosi, and then we’re just going to laugh for 15 minutes and that’s all we’re putting out. That will be it; we’ll be done,” says Graham.
July 2022 Issue