BY TAMMY SCILEPPI
Like millions of other fed-up New Yorkers, Queens’ badass podcasters Keith Malley and Chemda – hosts of the wildly popular Keith and The Girl (KATG) comedy talk show – are itching to get back to those good ol’ pre-pandemic days.
In the meantime, they’ve launched a successful Kickstarter campaign for 2020, thanks in large part to the duo’s rabid followers who keep rooting for and supporting their beloved heroes. The annual fundraising efforts help keep the mics on and the fresh content coming, after 3,300-plus episodes. Currently, almost $19,000 has been pledged of KATG’s $25,000 goal.
“Our listeners have been the biggest driving force to get us to 16 years of podcasting,” Chemda recently told QNS. “We add as much value to the Kickstarter as possible to keep our supporters happy and our community strong and fun.”
The podcast records live five days a week and offers fast-paced conversation, as the hosts schmooze with up-and coming and veteran guest comics, about relationships, comedy, current events, pop culture, the pandemic and politics. Keith and Chemda even share intimate details of their own lives, while tackling any topic with hilarity and candor. Fans appreciate their unique talents and ability to view reality through that special brand of unapologetically irreverent, no-holds-barred humor.
For several months, KATG has been recording remotely and dealing with the added expense of keeping the show running smoothly, in the midst of a global pandemic. Backers of the campaign will help ensure that they can continue to provide a great experience for their listeners and guests during an unprecedented era. If the campaign is successfully funded, Keith and Chemda will get to bring their annual 24-hour comedy marathon, featuring more than 50 of their fans’ favorite guests, during a live recording on Jan. 30, 2021 (this time, completely virtual). And then there’s KATG’s YouTube relaunch.
This year, that much-needed moolah will also help the podcasters move … again.
“In January, we moved into a new studio [in Astoria] that I only got to work from for two months before the pandemic hit hard,” Chemda recalled. “With the funding, we’re moving out of the studio completely and building more permanent studios in our homes. I live in a studio apartment with my boyfriend Xerxes in Long Island City, right by the above-ground train, so the only quiet place to record is in the closet.”
Back in February – before the world knew what was heading our way – the podcast pioneers felt like they were on top of the world, having recorded one of the longest-running podcasts in history, since launching back in 2005. QNS spoke with the former lovers then, as they celebrated their show’s 15th anniversary (in March) and looked forward to an even brighter future.
But times have been tough for everyone, and KATG was no exception. Despite their challenges, the dynamic duo kept the faith and plowed on, keeping their audience engaged and entertained. And their guests, who used to be invited to the studio, joined in via Zoom.
“The pandemic has been a b*tch. I miss going out to work, coffee shops, live shows and getting hugs,” Chemda shared. “I’m lucky to be living with someone I love, but we haven’t seen anyone else out in the real world since March. It’s lonely and scary and requires a lot of patience and a different energy than usual.”
KATG creates a new hourlong show each weekday and posts on http://www.keithandthegirl.com/ and on iTunes. (Subscribe to the free podcast and episodes will download automatically).
“While it’s a comedy show in the end, it’s still a very personal show, and when we’re not discussing the pandemic changes in people’s lives, we may be discussing the election, the country, everyone’s overall anxiety, and how we all cope,” Malley explained.
“Everything that I go through, someone else has gone through. I realized it’s silly to be embarrassed by normal, everyday situations. The world is more tolerable when people speak openly,” he added. “We love our New Yorkers, and we love people with a full worldview, that are constantly evolving.”
Every show is guaranteed to make you laugh! And these days, laughing at serious or scary situations can be very therapeutic.
“We’re shifting as much as possible to keep recording regular podcasts and create live and interactive experiences for our listeners,” Chemda noted. “One of the things we started is a virtual monthly game show called ‘Silent Trailers,’ where comedians compete together against Keith to guess the movie that I’m describing by watching its trailer on silent.”
“Chemda is the worst at movie references and actors’ names,” Malley quipped. “So, part of the fun is knowing that if she says, ‘Tom Selleck is bla bla,’ she might really mean Burt Reynolds. Or Elijah Wood for that matter. Who knows?”
Firing back, Chemda replied, “That might be a little exaggeration.” And Malley joked, “Mmmm, is it?”
During the show, the chat is very active with people’s responses, including guessing the movie and chatting with each other. KATG also started a weekly chat party on Wednesday nights. Every week, they get into their chatroom at 8 p.m. ET and are joined by listeners from around the world. Some folks join a virtual poker tournament and others are just there to shoot the breeze.
And it’s a lot of fun!
In addition, Chemda has created OMAT (One Minute Ata Time), a program that helps turn negative patterns into positive habits with eight, one-minute exercises.
“We love being the place that people can share real stories that are told with emotion, openness and humor,” she said. “When we talk about why we both have rocky relationships with our families and that that’s OK, people said it helped them see their family for who they truly are, which helped them know better how to interact with them.” That advice probably came in handy during many Thanksgiving dinners.
KATG will also be releasing “The Dad Emails – The Book,” a collection of email exchanges between Keith (posing as his ex-wife), and Keith’s creepy, unsuspecting father – a saga which has played out on the podcast over the course of the past year.
Higher tier backers will get the opportunity to have private hangout sessions with Keith & Chemda, and sit in on a virtual recording of the podcast. Backers who are prospective podcasters themselves, also have the opportunity to gain full access to The Ultimate Podcast Guide, in addition to 10 45-minute coaching sessions with the duo; plus they’ll help launch, grow and monetize their podcast.
“We miss the physical energy. There’s so many subtle cues in someone’s body language that you can almost feel in person that doesn’t translate over Zoom,” Malley shared. “So, while we’re now used to this new way of recording, having done it for over eight months, there’s still nothing like seeing Chemda across the table.”
And Chemda’s message to listeners: “Be kind. We can’t rewind.”
The show has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Mashable, Playboy, Maxim, and the covers of The Village Voice and Time Out NY, among others.
Fans can visit the Kickstarter campaign today to pledge their support. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Monday, Dec. 14, at 11:59 p.m.