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Know-It-Alls XII – We Are Family; I Got All my Bruudaa’s and Susses with Me

Somehow we have arrived at the twelfth Know-It-Alls live event, and the sixth of my blogs covering what happened on location. By this point, you might be taking it for granted that I’ll be bringing you all the behind the scenes gossip to read at your leisure, but don’t get complacent. As it happens, Rob was looking to replace me with Ronan Farrow this time. Napalm-‘Nino was hoping to get an exposé on Stephen Fishbach, who has long since been plagued by rumored incidents with avocados, sticks and an excessive intelligence quotient. Luckily, Mr Farrow had other priorities, so we’re keeping the Know-It-Alls blog in the RHAP family—that massive, sprawling clan which had a 400 strong reunion this week.

This was, perhaps, the most appropriate end to the Cesterninos’ East Coast trip, which had run the full gamut of life events. We were all pleased to see Nicole had made it out to the event so we could offer her our best wishes. We may not be blood relations, but the RHAP family has a habit of rallying around those going through a tough time, and this is a tradition we’re set to continue.

I myself have had a rough year with the break up of my marriage, and I’ve learned just how invaluable friendship can be. So when some members of Podcast House invited me to come over on Wednesday afternoon, I gratefully accepted. There’s nothing like the company of good friends to remind you that you’re never truly alone.

A shame then, that when I tracked down the address, I stood outside for ten minutes pressing the doorbell and messaging various Podcast House members to no avail. Everybody inside was absorbed in their own version of the coconut chop game. None of them checked their phones for over an hour (I hope they all had their Millennial cards revoked) by which point I had long since given in to the despair of my isolation and left. My therapist sends her regards, guys.

The Podcast House line up was essentially the same as usual, with the notable exception being Colin Stone. Anybody who questions the legitimacy of an online ‘family’ has never seen the remaining members of Podcast House randomly stare off into the distance and sigh: “I miss Colin.” Perhaps it was one such distraction that led to Dom Harvey inadvertently locking them out of their only bathroom. Taran Armstrong gallantly tried to pick the lock, but in the end, a maintenance man had to saw off the doorknob before basic hygiene was restored.

In Colin’s place, the ever delightful Kirsten MacInnis joined the group. She met with more success than her attempt at the Big Brother Canada House, as she was voted into Podcast House unanimously. (Though it must be said, she’s less of a replacement for Colin Stone than she is a bonus Brian Scally.) Speculation on what she may or may not have smuggled into the house is all grossly baseless.

Kirsten had attended the Toronto Know-It-Alls, but this was her first New York event. Also making her NYC debut was OG RHAP intern / producer and reigning RHAP Match Game champion, Jessica Frey. For the record, JFrey confirms that the East Coast event is a lot more intense than the West Coast ones she more typically attends. New York has so many regulars at this point, that some of us see each other more frequently than we see our actual families.

To be fair, some of us just go ahead and combine the two. Both Curt Clark and Jordan Kalish had brought their mothers. Curt’s was watching her first season of Survivor since Borneo and had never listened to the podcast. It… was not her thing. Jordan’s mother, Hildie Kalish, is a Survivor superfan and full-fledged patron. She had a great time.

We were in a slightly smaller theatre than the previous NYC KIA—probably to the benefit of the overall experience, as AMC Loews had been so vast that the actual podcast felt dwarfed by its surroundings. The SVA Theater gave us that movie theatre viewing experience along with the intimacy of Caroline’s. At a glance we could see who was there, or readily move up and down the aisles (or over the rows of chairs) to mingle.

The Who’s Who in attendance included the Ghost Island contingent of reigning champion Wendell Holland, reigning runner-up Domenick Abbate, fan favorite loved one Kristin Abbate, and compulsive self-deprecator Jacob Derwin. Andrea Boehlke and Eliza Orlins represented the Wine and Cheese crew, Bret LaBelle represented Millennials vs. Gen X and himself, while Brice Izyah was adding more family members to his tree by the minute. For the press, Dalton Ross finally got talked into coming to one of these shows, and for the Amazing Race, season 29’s winner, Brooke Camhi was in the crowd.

Chris Noble was perhaps the most unlikely of these attendees, and he clearly had no idea who anybody was. David Bloomberg helpfully introduced himself as one of the podcasters, to which Chris asked if he had ever talked to him. David told him he hadn’t, but noted that he had talked about him. The Noble One commented, “Hopefully, only good things,” and walked away, saving David the trouble of having to make a convincing reply.

Brent Wolgamott was working the crowd before the show, so he left Charles Kurtz to save his seat for the episode. Yet when he returned to the row as the show started, he discovered that Charles had actually given up the seat to the first pretty girl who asked for it. Brent was about to demand, “What the hell, bitch?” (addressed to Charles, not the girl; Brent is a gentleman) when he realised that the pretty girl was, in fact, Andrea Boehlke. Proving that he’s the wingman none of us deserve, Brent promptly ceded the seat and found himself another one.

How much of the episode Charles took in is possibly minimal. Andrea was with friends, but she is an expert on the social game, a superfan in her own right and (as demonstrated on her seasons) has a thing for nerds. She chatted away to him for the entire episode, but just as I was plotting out a blog-story-arc to rival last season’s Lita Brillman and James Lim, Rob decided to call her up on stage and Charles’ role as romantic hero was snatched away before it had begun.

Charles is clearly a David.

For those of us not sat next to a former Miss Survivor, the episode went fantastically. There’s been a lot of commentary on how well the editing has been done in the first two episodes of the season, and as a live crowd, we appreciated that fully, laughing and cheering throughout. We like Davie, we like Jeremy, we like Gabby and Christian, we like Lyrsa and Elizabeth… but we love Natalie. When Brice talked about her on the podcast, he was the spokesperson for the room. Sure, lots of other players were pulling some pretty great moves, while what we saw of Natalie was… inadvisable… but it didn’t matter. She had us at “Hello?” and we cheered everything she said and did.

Of course, there were non-Natalie moments that stood out. When Nick called Stephen a genius, Stephen gave him a one-man standing ovation. While we were divided on how much screen time Christian really needs, we all collapsed at the “in the sand?” line. Jeremy being the boss of Mike and owning Dan had us in his corner even if he did side against Nat Queen Cole. And, sorry Jessica, but we were absolutely Team Lyrsa on that vote.

All in all, a great episode for the crowd and a great episode for the podcast… Despite only being the second episode of the season, that one is in the running for the best KIA episode we’ve had (though nothing will ever top the moment of the Malcolm boot).

Of course, on its twelfth incarnation, Know-It-Alls Live is a well-oiled machine, and that is partly thanks to the hard work of all involved. This kind of show just doesn’t happen, you know. The live performance of the theme song by Bret LaBelle, Josh Wigler and Jacob Derwin? They rehearsed that. Jacob recommended Bret change his key. I mean, yeah, it was all thrown together at the last minute, and the decision to have Jacob on guitar instead of Rob on the mouth trumpet was a call made by Rob and Bret 24 hours earlier during the karaoke event, and I’m not quite sure at what point Wanda was added to the equation… but it was planned.

Sidenote: watching Josh sing Wanda live is a transcendent experience.

Full kudos to Rob for managing the Survivors in attendance so effortlessly during the podcast itself. Doing the barest of recaps with Stephen before bringing on other guests worked beautifully, and having Andrea become a third co-host was an inspired choice.

Kudos also to the RHAP fans who did their part to keep the show running. Mid-show, Chris Noble’s microphone (of course, it would be The Noble One’s) spontaneously dropped itself. Jason Curtis Rivera had just asked a question, and he swiftly handed Chris the microphone reserved for people with a question. He then took Chris’ microphone and ran to the back of the theatre to exchange the batteries.

This left a line of people to the left of the stage who had questions but no microphone, so Rob motioned for them to cross over to the right hand side where there was still a working microphone. This was the point where Aaron Robertson did his army crawl, determined not to ruin the shot. (To be fair to Aaron, this worked perfectly. It’s not his fault that the people on stage weren’t professional enough to pretend a guy in a bow tie wasn’t wriggling past their feet.)

Most of the Survivors did not make it to the After Party, but those that did were troopers. Bret LaBelle of course was the last contestant to leave (possibly the last person to leave; possibly he’s still there), but Wendell Holland and Brice Izyah hung out by the bar for hours chatting to their mobs of fans. RHAP being what it is, Brice’s Zaddy calendar had been printed into existence and this was easily the prop of the evening.

When I saw it, I knew I had to get a picture of Wendell with his page. Unfortunately, Wendell and Brice were about fifteen feet away from each other; in that mob, it may as well have been fifteen miles. Neither of them could take a step without being pulled to one side for a picture. However, Wendell is not Sole Survivor for nothing. I told him what I wanted, and over the course of about ten minutes, he edged closer to Brice until the precious calendar could exchange hands. Wendell is officially my hero.

Brooke Camhi also came to the after party—an easier prospect for her as few people recognised her. Not that she was left to feel unwanted; Lita Brillman is a die-hard Brooke-stan and was all over her like… well, like Lita on James Lim. Other people got recognised more often than they might have expected, such as Danny Hoffman, formerly best known as partner of Survivor: Maryland host Austin Trupp, but now famous for being Mike Bloom. Perhaps because the real Mike was pinned down in the foyer, Danny was consistently mistaken for him. As touching a sentiment as the idea of an RHAP family is, it becomes a little disturbing when a family resemblance develops…

Not everybody could bring their family members, of course. Seinfeld fan Jaime listens to Rob and Akiva with her nine year old daughter, who was not in attendance. This didn’t stop the child from challenging Rob and Akiva to a Seinfeld trivia contest. This may or may not be coming to a Wheel of Podcasts near you…

(Speaking of challenges, Curtis Morrison took on my pyramid puzzle, and entered the league table in second place behind Jeff Pitman, stealing Colin Stone’s spot by a few seconds. Bravo, Curtis!)

I had my own challenge when I ran into Heather Cannon, whom I had inadvertently sub-blogged in the last KIA write up. (I tell you, nobody’s ever happy with their edit.) Luckily, Heather was more inclined to be amused about the whole thing and was entirely gracious towards me.

I gave up on the party sometime after 2am, but it was still going strong. Even the Podcast Housers were still there—I believe they declined to host an after-after-party this time around. Must be getting old… (On Thursday, the group actually went outside. During the day.) Personally, I had a flight to catch on Thursday; others were leaving on Friday, but sooner or later, we all had to bid our farewells and make our way back to our real family and friends. Still, whether it was for four hours or forty-eight, 400 of us got to reaffirm a very real type of family bond: that of our online community.

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