As a regular on the Chelsea Lately round table, April Richardson is quickly establishing herself as an immensely capable comedian. But when she was in high school, her goals weren’t quite as lofty. Whose were?
In the mid-’90s, Saved by the Bell (SBTB) came on TV multiple times a day. You could check in with Zack, Slater, Kelly, and Screech just about any time you wanted, and Richardson did just that. She committed every formulaic story arc that took place at Bayside High to memory, and though she claims to sometimes forget family members’ birthdays, she has no trouble telling you Zack got a 1502 on his SATs.
Her podcast, Go Bayside!, is a weekly critique of SBTB, where Richardson sits down with another comic and dissects the misadventures of Zack and the gang episode by episode.
An Interview with Go Bayside! Host and Creator, April Richardson
- When the move out West and why comedy?
I moved here almost eight years ago, first with the intention to get a job at a magazine since I had a journalism degree. Very luckily I did just that, and then soon after that got a job as a copy editor at MTV News, which was amazing, and then I started doing stand-up at night. I actually moved here to be able to SEE stand-up more often — I read stuff on comedy nerd message boards (shout out to aspecialthing.com) about people seeing the likes of BOB ODENKIRK performing around town, and I lost my damn mind.
I was ready to move here just for the chance of seeing him live! I always, always had a secret dream of doing stand-up comedy (I’ve been the “class clown” smart-ass type since I could talk), but after living here a couple years and seeing amazing shows almost nightly, I felt simultaneously inspired and defeated, like, “I HAVE to do this, but these people are SO GOOD, why even bother?”
But when I got laid off from the magazine job, and before I landed the MTV gig, I had plenty of time on my hands, and it was a real “what do you have to lose?” situation, and I decided I absolutely HAD to try, or I’d be disappointed in myself forever, so I went to my first open mic and was instantly in love.
- How’d you wind up working on Chelsea Lately?
All thanks be to Jen Kirkman for that one! She and I were friendly even before I started doing comedy, because I was a fan of hers and we share a mutual love of Morrissey, and I had seen her at Morrissey shows in L.A. and would talk to her about him after seeing her perform at the UCB Theatre and stuff. Anyway, when I was then laid off from MTV, I sent out an e-mail to various friends asking for help, just like, “I’m looking for anything, let me know if you have any leads,” not even specifying I’d like to work in comedy.
Jen wrote back immediately and let me know of the open writers’ assistant position here, and I answered so quickly that I think mine was the first resume they saw! So I was called in for an interview and then another where Chelsea sized me up and decided I was apparently just weird enough to join her crew, and here I am, three years later. It’s been pretty awesome.
- There’s a generation of us who embraced TBS syndication. What about SBTB attracted you? Was it just because it was on at the right time, or was there more to it?
I can’t say initially, really — I do remember watching it on Saturday mornings when I was really young, but I didn’t super duper start paying attention until it was on in that four-episode block in middle and high school. I’m sure it was that it was on at that perfect time, just in time for this latchkey kid to sit and watch, fresh home from school, snack in hand.
And I totally thought Zack was hot, of course, and I think I just loved the goofiness of it all, being someone who spent a great deal of time in my early youth watching cartoons — I mean, the show is cartoons starring humans.
I’m sure a part of me that watched it in middle school probably thought that it was really showing what high school would be like, until grim reality set in and I had to face facts in ninth grade that no dude in my school was nearly as cool as Zack Morris. (Sidenote: I published a zine all about SBTB in college for a journalism class, and got an A. Of course.)
- What drove the decision to develop a podcast around it?
It’s a truly selfish endeavor, because I simply love talking about the show. Period. In high school, I remember talking about it pretty often with friends of mine, trying to stump each other with obscure trivia questions, reciting entire episodes verbatim, etc. We just always got a kick out of picking it apart, and one night after watching some of the episodes on my own in my own adult apartment in my early 30s like a sad shell of a person, I posted something on Facebook about the episode I was currently watching, like being serious and applying adult logic to it, and my friend Josh Levesque was like, “You should do a podcast about this.”
It kind of didn’t even occur to me that anyone other than close friends (and maybe not even them, ha!) would want to listen to my ramblings, but then I thought, what if I get a different guest for each episode with a fresh perspective, so it won’t just be me yammering on the whole time, and I did some research to make sure that a similar podcast didn’t exist.
I sort of felt like I was ripping off How Did This Get Made? on Earwolf, which I love, but they do a different movie each time, and I didn’t find a podcast dissecting a particular show, and certainly not this one. And thus, Go Bayside! was born.
- Forgive me if you’ve covered this, but were Good Morning, Miss Bliss episodes deconstructed in the podcast or just the SBTB incarnation?
Naw, no Good Morning, Miss Bliss OR New Class OR College Years — I am only doing original recipe, and perhaps the two movies, Hawaiian Style and Zack & Kelly’s Vegas Wedding (or whatever it’s called). I have yet to decide the format of the movies, as they are longer than normal eps, so I might have to do two-parters. We shall see!
- Did you know Mr. Belding played a Cool Whip test-kitchen scientist on an episode of Mad Men last year?
I did! I shouted at the TV, “MR. BELDING!”
- What happens when you’ve burned through all (six?) seasons of SBTB? The College Years?
I’ll sit back and admire my legacy. HAR! No, I don’t know — I might start another thing, but there isn’t another show that I know as intimately as this one, that I nearly have memorized from start to finish. I have other podcast ideas (who doesn’t?), but they don’t focus on television. But who knows?
Having these wonderful people come over to my place and sit with me on my couch to talk for a couple of hours is the most fun thing ever. I might have to pick apart another show just to be able to do that again.
- I’ve spoken with comedians who find catharsis in the podcasting process. How about you? Is it therapeutic?
It’s pretty great. As much as I love the show and love clowning on it, my favorite moments are when show plot points lead the guests down memory lane and I get to hear real stories from their time in high school, or when I get to tell crazy stories from my school days. It’s fun to bond over that stuff, and also equally as fun to hear out-there stories that are a million miles away from my own high school experience. I love it. And the e-mails I get rule!
I get wonderful and even educational e-mails, most kind and complimentary, some schooling me on how things go at other high schools, and even some from current teachers and principals reacting to stuff the adults do and say on SBTB! It’s so awesome!
- Monetization of podcasting is big topic these days. Are sponsors warming to Go Bayside?
I have had some interest from some sponsors and networks, and I’m certainly not against that stuff AT ALL, but for now, I like that I do everything myself (with the exception of sound editing by my dear friend David Hornbuckle), and it’s literally just someone coming over to my apartment and sitting on my couch in my living room and I am simply recording us on my mics on my desktop, you know? It’s very DIY.
Maybe I’ll take it to a network soon to open up listenership, but I’m still kind of learning about the medium and enjoying the absolute freedom that comes with just recording this thing myself and being responsible for all aspects of putting it out there in the world. I came up in the zine/punk rock community as a teenager, and published my own zine, and to me, right now, it feels like I am doing the audio equivalent of that, as corny as that sounds.
- I recognize two posters on the wall behind you and your guest on your Tumblr as Peter Buck and Mike Mills, and the Shoplifters of the World Unite album cover. But what’s the one on the far left. Is that a movie poster?
HAHA! Oh man, my apartment in present day looks exactly like my room in my parents’ house when I was like, 15. The posters you can see above my couch are, from left, a poster for the Pulp album “Different Class,” a poster advertising the Smiths single “Shoplifters of the World Unite,” and a poster of R.E.M. circa “Document.” All three of those things remain close to my heart, even now, in space year 2013.
- What’s on the docket for you for 2014?
More podcasts! I have like 50 episodes to go! More comedy shows! I am a regular on the Chelsea Lately round table (check local listings, etc), and will perform stand-up comedy anywhere that will have me.
You can follow April on Twitter @Apey
And check out the Go Bayside!Tumblr Page