The hosts and creators of the wildly profitable podcast ‘And That’s Why We Drink’ discuss adapting to the pandemic, their 200th episode milestone, and the way podcasts can create optimistic social change.
Em Schulz and Christine Schiefer are the creators and co-hosts of And That’s Why We Drink, a weekly podcast the place they share true crime tales, paranormal encounters, and quite a lot of laughs. The podcast has been ongoing since 2017 with 264 episodes to this point, boasting a whopping 80 million downloads, and the pair received the 2019 “Folks’s Voice” Webby Award for Greatest Comedy Podcast. Though Christine and Em attended the identical grad college Boston, it wasn’t till they related by probability in Los Angeles years later that they turned buddies and, subsequently, celebrity podcasters. They chatted with Humorous Or Die over Zoom to speak about conserving a profitable podcast going by way of the pandemic and to provide some phrases of knowledge to aspiring creatives.
This interview has been edited and condensed for size and readability.
Thanks each a lot for becoming a member of me! I really feel like plenty of teams of buddies have like a second the place they take a look at one another and go, “we’re so humorous” or “we’re so good at this, we must always have our personal present,” however it’s so attention-grabbing that you just two took a unique strategy, which was discovering frequent pursuits however probably not figuring out one another, and utilizing the podcast to get to know one another. What’s it been like cultivating and rising such a profitable podcast in tandem along with your friendship?
Christine: Yeah. Who does that? What’s mistaken with us?
Em: I believe we each took it as a chance to doc a friendship from begin to end— or perhaps it doesn’t have to complete. Hopefully. Christine is the one who launched me to podcasts, so I believe as soon as I spotted that this was a good friend I didn’t wish to lose I used to be like, “Properly, why don’t we simply attempt to make our personal?” Worst case situation, we now have the beginnings of our friendship recorded.
Christine: Yeah. I’ve to confess this, when Em initially texted me I used to be like, “No thanks, I’m probably not feeling it.” I can’t stay that half down, however my boyfriend who’s now my husband was like, “You want a interest, you want one thing to do after work, you’re depressed, you’re making a brand new good friend, lean into it,” stuff like that. Then from day one, we have been 100% invested.
I don’t assume we ever realized it was going to achieve success. I imply, we needed it to be, however I don’t assume we have been ever naive sufficient to assume like, “Oh, that is going to be the following massive factor,” as a result of we have been working minimal wage assistant jobs within the leisure trade. So it was extra like a enjoyable interest, and I believe that a part of the explanation it went effectively is we by no means took ourselves too critically.
Em: Yeah, we [originally] met by way of movie college, so we had simply spent like two years being crushed down into believing that we’ll by no means make it massive. We have been similar to, “Let’s do that factor for ourselves and no expectations.”
The format of your podcast is described in different interviews as ‘a real crime podcast with a comedy twist.’ However listening to it, I felt prefer it’s virtually extra of a range discuss present the place you occur to speak about true crime and paranormal stuff, in that it’s very heat and informal and genuine. I really feel like I’m sitting in a room with you, listening to you two hang around. Was that side of inviting your viewers into your lives and being so open and private there from the beginning or did that evolve over time?
Christine: I might say that was positively from day one. Since Em and I have been assuming solely our moms, if that, have been listening, we have been simply sort of hanging out like we did each different night time, however now we had a microphone in entrance of us. And we have been studying about one another, like Em stated. I believe it’s episode 13 that I discovered Em had gone to clown faculty and I had not identified that earlier than. So all people who listens to the podcast bought to be taught that enjoyable reality alongside me.
Em: I believe it was actually a blessing in disguise that we determined to start out a podcast as strangers as a result of it fuelled a must fill empty house. We didn’t know one another, so we have been simply going to speak about ourselves and if somebody needed to hear, nice. I’ve truly by no means heard anybody describe [the podcast] as that earlier than, however I do like how that sounds. It will make sense why lots of people appear to essentially benefit from the banter of it, as a result of there’s a complete degree past simply storytelling. Lots of people who began listening from the start and have stayed with us really feel like they turned buddies with us, as a result of they bought to know us on the similar time that we bought to know one another.
Has it been attention-grabbing constructing a loyal viewers of people who find themselves not solely listening for the paranormal and true crime tales, however who’ve additionally grow to be so invested in you as individuals?
Christine: Positively. Em and I’ve gotten acknowledged in public and the primary few instances have been jarring, as a result of it’s a radio present and also you assume, “Why would anybody know what I appear to be?” However individuals become involved in our social media and observe us on totally different platforms. I might say it was an adjustment interval for certain. A pair days in the past somebody tweeted, “Oh, Christine I simply discovered your husband,” as a result of he works on the ER right here in Cincinnati, they have been like, “I used to be his affected person!”
Em: It’s positively been a enjoyable adjustment. It feels good to be acknowledged for one thing that folks take pleasure in. I’m actually not trying ahead to the day somebody acknowledges me as a result of they don’t take pleasure in it, like, “Hey! I hate your podcast!” Nevertheless it’s been very nice, I do know we’ve each made buddies by way of it. I bought to know [our listeners] as a result of they got here to so a lot of our exhibits and meet and greets, and finally they simply turned recognizable. And now we now have our personal relationships exterior of the present.
So with you each going by way of movie college, what’s it been like discovering success on the entrance finish of the digicam or mic, being the expertise, not simply those producing it? Is that one thing that you just have been ready for or noticed for your self?
Em: I’m not ready for it in any respect. Which is ironic, as a result of we bought an schooling to be ready for it. It’s humorous that, in some methods, we ended up in a very totally different trade, like we went to TV college and now we now have a radio present. It’s opened up doorways, so even when we’re not in tv proper now, it may occur later. It’s positively expanded our horizons.
Christine: In some methods I’m in sort of a unique boat, as a result of I all the time supposed to do writing and a good friend and I have been doing clip exhibits and mini sequence on YouTube. I used to be all the time making an attempt to do the following enjoyable on-screen factor. I really feel like that basically helped— learning comedy writing, I needed to do improv as effectively, and I believe that each one flows collectively for podcasting.
What’s it been like recording and producing through the pandemic? And in addition hitting your 200th episode milestone through the pandemic, which by the way in which, congratulations. That’s large.
Christine: Aw, thanks.
Em: It feels proper that it will occur throughout a pandemic or some type of disaster. However, I imply, to start with, I by no means thought we’d have 200 episodes. Recording has been fairly an journey this yr, even earlier than the pandemic Christine was like, “Oh, additionally I’m shifting.” So it wasn’t a matter of when are we going to drive to one another anymore, it was now how are we going to see one another, interval? We had plans of motion after which the pandemic simply stored ruining them. It’s been a pleasant sport of cat and mouse to make issues work.
Christine: There’s positively been plenty of trial and error. I’m very glad that we did examine what we studied. Generally it seems like, “We studied TV and I studied journalism and undergrad, what use was all that?” However on the similar time I’m like, “Thank God I discovered the fundamentals of enhancing by myself,” as a result of it made it so much simpler to regulate. I really feel actually lucky that we’re capable of do our jobs from dwelling through the pandemic. A pair episodes went out with apologies saying issues like, “Sorry if we sound like we’re a mile away from the microphone,” however I believe we’re figuring it out.
Is there something that you just two have discovered or developed whereas within the pandemic that you just’re going to use to episodes sooner or later as soon as we’re by way of all of this and have some normalcy again?
Em: I believe that the entire world may in all probability say we’ve discovered how one can adapt to new conditions. I believe earlier than [the pandemic] I used to be extra anxious or frightened about how we have been going to get the whole lot carried out beneath regular circumstances, however I believe we’ve grow to be much more accommodating to no matter atmosphere we’re in.
Christine: I agree. We had, for instance, an enormous tour scheduled for the spring and, like all people else within the leisure trade, our stay exhibits have been utterly nixed. So having the ability to do digital “stay” exhibits as an alternative of doing in-person exhibits and determining how one can do bonus content material for our Patreon supporters after we’re not in the identical room has been, I believe, a very good lesson in creativity and winging it, which we’ve discovered we’re each good at.
Broader than podcasting, do you’ve any recommendation for individuals eager to both break right into a artistic subject and/or who’re contemplating unconventional profession paths?
Christine: My recommendation is just about all the time the identical. Em and I stored our day jobs till we felt assured that we have been capable of assist ourselves by way of [And That’s Why We Drink]. Whereas it was a dive off a cliff as a result of we spent our financial savings on audio tools and there was threat concerned, we positively waited earlier than leaving our day jobs. My recommendation is choose one thing that you’d do at no cost as a interest anyway. If you happen to go into one thing like podcasting anticipating to make a dwelling, I simply don’t assume that strategy tends to work in addition to should you’re 100% passionate and doing it for the enjoyable of it first.
Em: If you happen to go into it genuinely, persons are going to have the ability to inform and can wish to pay extra consideration, versus, I believe, lots of people can inform instantly if somebody’s in it for the clout.
Christine: It additionally reduces burnout. If Em and I picked a subject that we weren’t 100% invested in, we’d be much less prone to have put 110% time and effort in. We have been working full time, there was some extent the place I used to be working and planning a marriage, however the podcast was the enjoyable a part of the whole lot I had on my plate. It’s exhausting, it’s plenty of work, particularly as soon as it turns into at a enterprise degree, however should you actually care and are enthusiastic about it, it’s going to be so much simpler to hopefully transition that into an precise job.
Em, do you’ve any recommendation particularly for younger gender nonconforming creatives seeking to break into this type of trade, whether or not that’s by way of podcasting or one other medium
Em: This can be a time the place lots of people have questions and we’re all in an area the place we’re studying collectively. Though I’m not cisgender, I haven’t formally come out as something but as a result of even I don’t know. However I believe that’s actually necessary, as a result of there aren’t lots of people on the market who’re within the public eye in some capability who say, “Look even I don’t know and that’s okay.” I believe it is a actually good time for individuals to get educated or assist others alongside the way in which or do one thing in that world, as a result of persons are on the lookout for how one can be one of the best ally doable.
Christine: Each time we do a stay present, and even simply on social media or by way of emails, individuals, particularly mother and father will come up and say, “Em, you helped me perceive my baby who was making an attempt to inform me they use they/them pronouns,” or what have you ever. It’s actually cool to see individuals from all generations say, “the way in which you talked about [gender] made it simpler for me to get it and settle for individuals.”
Em: At the very least as soon as at every stay present, somebody who’s queer will strategy us and say we’ve helped them ultimately. If we’re ready to try this, if that’s a aspect impact of our present, then different exhibits on the market can do the identical factor.
Christine: Em taught me, even. You may hear to start with [of the podcast] I spotted I used to be misgendering them as a result of we hadn’t had that dialog, however you possibly can hear the transition over time. Now if persons are actually early into the podcast they usually say one thing to us, plenty of instances different listeners will soar in and remark like, “Hey, I do know you’re not at this episode but, however simply so you already know, Em makes use of they/them pronouns.” It’s actually enjoyable to see individuals develop together with us.
Em: One in every of my favourite components about our present is how everybody collectively has grown in understanding, whether or not referring to me or a gender-queer individual they know. They in all probability assume I don’t see it, however I’ve seen a couple of individuals within the feedback defending me very kindly and politely if I get misgendered. It’s enjoyable to see what we’ve taught individuals and watching them train others.