Sunday, August 6, 2017

Podcast Review: Off Book: The Improvised Musical Podcast

Off Book: The Improvised Musical Podcast (2017) - Starring Jessica McKenna and Zach Reino.

By Kenny Howell

For those of who are frequent Comedy Bang Bang listeners like I am, you are well aware of who Jessica McKenna is.

Over the last year or so, she has burst onto that scene with the character Beth, a little girl whose mom works upstairs in the building and she burns around the Comedy Bang Bang studio on her power wheels. On an episode last October, she let loose her freestyle rapping ability, which may have been the most joyful things on that show last year.

Now she has taken that talent, along with comedy partner Zach Reino, to her own podcast called Off Book: The Improvised Musical. The pair have a guest on (the first three are Comedy Bang Bang regulars Paul F. Tompkins, Mary Holland and Drew Tarver), and they tell a story from their life, which the three of them spin into a musical that ends up going in all kinds of crazy directions.

It sounds like it could be terrible and go way off the rails, but McKenna and Reino are so incredibly good, so self-assured in their spontaneous songs it ends up being something uniquely fun. Paul F. Tompkins, a self-confessed not very good improvised singer, spent much of his episode giggling in the background. He would chime in with his strengths, as he always does, but McKenna and Reino ran the show.

It's rare a podcast has a great idea and executes it as well as it planned to going into it. We are just a few episodes in, and they have had some stellar improvisers so far, so we will see where it goes from here when you may not have the best guests. But right now, this is one of the most entertaining podcasts out there.

Rating: ****

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