Behind-the-Scenes on Episode 6

  1. My one and only note to Sara Beth for this episode was: Ellen doesn’t seem to understand how hashtags work.
  2. Anyone with an advanced murder board should be able to figure out quite a lot about how people are connected and how certain stories came to be after hearing this episode.
  3. I was originally going to hold the exchange between Fish Ellen and Patty with the Crystals for episode 7. I sent the episode as you heard it to the bloggers and asked for their input. They unanimously agreed I should keep the exchange in episode 6; but under one condition:
  4. That there would still be a big reveal in episode 7.
  5. There is. A huge one.
  6. The reveal in episode 7 was originally going to be held until the very end of episode 9.
  7. I have spent so many hours trying to remember if in 2012 I ever saw or encountered a woman in front of my old apartment building whose car had been broken into.
  8. As it turns out, I did remember that there was a week-long rash of break-ins there. I even talked to a few people. I can’t remember what they looked like or who they were. It’s something that haunts me often now.
  9. The majority of the recordings in this episode were done within a week of releasing it. I had originally planned to do most of this stuff after the holiday break.
  10. I felt the perfect way to follow-up a Karen-centric episode was with an Ellen-centric one. So, we rushed production.
  11. I was writing and putting together episodes 6 and 7 simultaneously, and still struggle sorting out what material ended up where.
  12. I think the biggest mistake an active listener could make during this episode is to assume all of these exchanges are happening in the same timeline.
  13. Here’s a big hint: The Dot & Helena stuff spans over 5 years. The Fish Ellen stuff is mostly contained to the last year (save a few relevant posts).
  14. Prepare for a more cohesive merging of those two timelines next week.
  15. This episode represents a real turning point in how these people are presented. The show will begin feeling more grounded.
  16. At this point, you have not heard the last of anyone, except for the acting troupe.
  17. Sara and I record most of our conversations and send each other voice memos all the time. But because so much of our investigating is discussed or fleshed out over Messenger, we end up having to record a lot of pick-ups for better exposition. We could not make that happen this time, and had to make do with what we had from our recordings. It felt very apropos of the whole series; I had some real Tim Gunn moments.
  18. “Darren” did not want to be recorded or use his real name. Since he and my friend Matt do not know one another and have very similar mannerisms and senses of humor, Matt seemed like the perfect fit. It has been really confusing having one friend portray another friend, under a fake name. I never know what to call him.
  19. This is only one of two episodes not featuring Laila at the beginning. I like keeping people on their toes; and since there were so many animal references in this ep, Paul seemed the perfect opener.
  20. That Sudio ad took me FOREVER to write and record. I think I spent 4 or 5 hours on that damn thing.
  21. My favorite piece from this episode is when Ellen/Sara B opens a new FB post with:

    “This is a 6 foot painting of over 37 cats.” Every time I hear it, I burst out laughing. It’s never not funny to me.

     

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Behind-the-Scenes on Episode 5

  1. This episode took longer to produce than any other episode of Karen & Ellen.
  2. Episodes usually take a total of 6-8 hours, Karen Karen Karen took 16.
  3. When we learned one of the random tidbits mentioned in the Dot & Helena conversation, it connected a lot of our dots and answered a lot of our questions.
  4. Originally, Dot and Helena were never going to be featured in the same episode. I just thought this episode needed a little more levity and fun; so we gave them five minutes of conversation to open the show.
  5. This was my least favorite episode to produce. I could not figure out how to narrate it, what to include vs. what to hold back on, or how to fit all the necessary information together in a cohesive way.
  6. I legitimately worried that the episode would be so bad that people would stop listening to the show.
  7. I initially thought I couldn’t cast Chris Green as David, because of his brief appearance as Email Main in season 1. Then I thought it would be a fun way to toy with people and make them think David was Email Man.
  8. When I first received those Karen emails in 2012, a friend of mine swore up and down there was no way they were real. We all told him he was crazy.
  9. The conversation between Sara and me in this episode is actually pieces from 4 different conversations edited together.
  10. It took me a very long time before I became open to Crochet Pants as being a possible Karen.
  11. Her blog is as crazy as it sounds, and chronicles over 7 years of her life.
  12. It’s still current; her latest post was the 23rd.
  13. I spent hours and hours trying to figure out which roomie was the catfish.
  14. I never did.
  15. I often wonder, given her interest in the mystery, whether she created a new/fake account and is a roomie again.
  16. Episode 6 will be just as, if not more, revealing as episode 5.
  17. The bumper stickers read by Sara are the exact bumper stickers from Crochet Pants’s car. She even posted a photo of them all on her blog. The kitchen sink one still totally mystifies me.
  18. We’ll hear more from my Karen contender in future episodes.
  19. This episodes had more possible titles than any other episode. Here’s some of them:
    The Catfish
    Yarn Goddess
    I Ate A Kitchen Sink
    A Fish Without A Bicycle
    Crochet Pants
    Better Than Berkeley
    Bush Quayle 88
    Loud And Proud Lesbian
  20. At the beginning of the production, I created an episode guide, which outlined each episode. I have strayed so much from it that it’s not even usable anymore.

Sara & Josh Interview Each Other

Sara Stapleton (Karen) & Josh have some questions for each other about the first half of Season 2.

Josh asks Sara:

1. As a listener, what has been your favorite part of S2?

In season 1, I had obviously read all the letters before, so there wasn’t much new and exciting aside from the ‘WHO ARE THEY’ mystery.  In season 2 even though I know most of the information Josh is sharing, I don’t know how he’s going to do it.  I absolutely love not really knowing what’s going to happen in each episode, so I feel like I’m hearing the story for the first time.  

2. So far, what has surprised you? 

Oh wow… the karaoke.  How funny Dot and Helena are.  How much Ellen homework there is. How much I miss reading Karen.  

3. As a producer/actor, what has been your favorite part of S2?

I’m really enjoying how the reveals are happening.  Josh has done a good job of sharing information much like how we got it – disjointed and REALLY confusing. 

4. What do you think of the narrative style?

I am in a love/hate relationship with the style of season 2 (see my love in #3) .  But I have difficulty retaining information from listening, so the disjointed nature of season 2 has been a bit mentally challenging, but luckily, I know most of it already!  LOL  If I didn’t have insider knowledge, I might have abandoned ship.  (Don’t hate me – hate my brain.)

5. What has been your favorite episode?

I think the upcoming episode 5 for obvious reasons.. It’s all about me…. I mean Karen. 

6. What did you think of Deana’s portrayal of Karen?

I TOTALLY loved it.  It was such a different take on her – less airheaded, more irritating. 

7. What has made you laugh the most, as a listener and/or actor?

As a listener:  Jeff.  Jeff as Mark and Jeff as Jeff.   
As an actor: Karen’s looping kills me.  I have had some students who do that in their writing and it drives me nuts.  It’s nice to be able to laugh rather than help fix it.  

8. What has been your favorite karaoke rendition thus far?

This past Saturday when I spent way too much money at a charity event to sing with a live band. 😉
I CAN’T stand listening to the karaoke on the show.  It’s like nails on the chalkboard to me.  

9. Tease us: What are you most looking forward to from episode 5?

Crochet pants!  And, OMIGOD, Josh chose some PRIMO material for me to read. Hilarious. 

10. What’s been your favorite fan theory?

All of them.  I love the rampant speculation.  And the crazy ones crack me up. 

11. Is there anything else I should ask you?

Am I 100% sure of what Josh has discovered about real people behind K&E?   TBA.  (Always wanted to say that!  hahahaha) 

Sara asks Josh:

1. Did you ever hear back from the handwriting expert?

I sure did.

2. What was the most surprising discovery you made in researching the letters?

There were four truly shocking discoveries (for me); three take place in the back half of the season. One shocking discovery that made me super nervous is coming up in Episode 5: Karen Karen Karen. I think it will be the revelation that causes the most chaos amongst the Roomies.

3. Are you 100% confident that you have solved the mystery of who the real Karen and Ellen are?

I am 90% confident that I have solved the mystery of who the real Karen is. I am 100% confident I have solved the mystery of who the real Ellen is.

4. How does it feel to be the keeper of secrets to rabid K &E fans?

There are days when I hate it. The Roomies and listeners have become my own Karen & Ellen family. And when I find crazy stuff out, they’re the first ones I want to tell. 

There are times, though, when I’m really excited to dangle narrative carrots for them, and sort of quietly lead them to shocking revelations later down the road.

5. How dare you tell Pappas EVERYTHING before me! (Not a question, just expressing my outrage)

Wine.

6. Who is your favorite character?

I love, love, love Dot and Helena. They are the most natural addition to the cast of characters we’ve come to know and love. Adrienne and Lori play the parts brilliantly. And I think they so wonderfully capture the current American culture. Everything the real women say, cracks me up and endears me. Everything that gets adapted into, cracks me up and endears me. Every time Adrienne and Lori bring those things to life, I crack up and am endeared.

7. If you were casting a Karen and Ellen TV show or movie, who would you cast in each of the roles?

Young Karen: Kirstin Dunst? Anna Paquin? Natalia Dyer?
Young Ellen: Anna Faris?
Adult Karen: Shannen Doherty
Adult Ellen: Winona Ryder
Mark: Martin Short? Andy Cohen? Steve Buscemi?
Rob: Jack Black
Dot: Sally Fields
Helena: Ellen Barkin

8. I know Roomies send you Intel all the time. Have you discovered anything lately that has affected the season’s outcome?

There was one shocking discovery, that I’m still trying to fit into the season. I can’t say whether it impacted the outcome; but it was definitely the most jaw-dropping Roomie discovery.

9. Do you miss doing your voice narration?

It pops up from time to time, which is the perfect amount. I get sick of myself, a lot. Plus, writing my narration always stresses me out; it’s where I procrastinate the most.

10. If you had to choose one voice from K&E to narrate your life story, who would it be?

That’s a tough one. My initial responses are: David, Karen, Mark, Helena. David first because Chris Green sends me a bunch of improv as his character whenever he sends over recordings. They are truly hilarious. I want to do a bloopers episode for Patreon at some point; they’ll be in there.

An Interview with Sara Beth Poole (Ellen)

I was lucky enough to get a chance to ask Sara Beth Poole some questions about the podcast. (Holy Mary Christ! Ya’ll know I’m totally #TeamEllen and I was totally fangirl-ing when she agreed!)

Do you listen to the podcast? If you listen, what are your theories?

I do listen to the podcast! I genuinely love it, especially this second season as it is a complete mystery to me where this will all end up. Josh has completely left me in the dark as far as where the story is going which makes it really exciting to listen. I only have the vaguest of ideas based on the recordings I did. I don’t have any theories of my own, but I do think that some of the ones I’ve heard are plausible. The exception is the one where Ellen is Karen and Robs’ daughter, it makes no sense, why would she pay rent if she were their child??

How do you manage to not crack up reading the letters?

To be honest I do a lot of cracking up during recording! I send Josh edited files so the listeners don’t get to hear my bloopers.

Is Ellen’s voice your own or acting? How did you determine what Ellen’s personality would be? Has anyone ever recognized your voice as Ellen?

Ellen’s voice is higher and quite a bit more childlike than mine. She is so endearing and sweet and I wanted that to come across as soon as you heard her speak. I did a lot of character development for the staged reading we did years ago, but a lot of the quirks that make Ellen Ellen are things that I grew up with in my new-age household. Stuff like astrology, crystal healing, chakras, and gurus were totally normal topics of conversation for my mom and her friends, so I had a lot to draw on there. Ellen is largely an amalgamation of the hippy-dippy women I knew growing up with a healthy dose of naivete, sort of like Stevie Nicks meets Elmo. No one has ever recognized my voice as Ellen, but I have to admit I would love that!

Josh has stated you are not really on social media. However, do you know about the Facebook group? Do you know about the Roomies? How do you feel about being a celebrity to all the Roomies?

What little I know about the Facebook group I learned from the podcast and from a quick email Josh sent us during season 1 to let us know how much the podcast had took off. I had no idea I was a celebrity to the Roomies!! How exciting! I deleted my Facebook account after the election last year and I don’t see myself resurrecting it, but I am SUPER sad that I don’t get to interact with y’all in cyberland. I think it’s so interesting and cool that you all have been able to connect in a real way and make friends on the internet. I didn’t think that happened anymore!

Who is your favorite Karen and Ellen Letters character?

It’s so hard to pick a favorite character!!! I’m feel really connected to Ellen so my first instinct is to call her my favorite, but there is so much to love about everyone. Maybe it’s a cop-out to answer this way but I really love the way the characters have come to life through my fellow actors and I think we all do an amazing job.

Do you have a favorite letter? (Ellen’s or anyone else) Favorite episode?

Oh my goodness… it’s so hard to decide! In general I love Ellen’s letters the most because she is soooo loveable and sweet and truly hilarious. Thinking about it I have to say that the drug-sniffing dog letter is my #1, but I also really love the series of letters between she and Mark in which she opens up about being scared to go to Karen’s grandmother’s house. It’s a very vulnerable human interaction between she and Mark, and some seriously genius character development if these letters aren’t real.

What is your favorite “Ellen-ism”?

I love the way she talks about karma. It’s a concept she’s clearly very passionate about but little understands. I think there’s a lesson to be learned there about the ways that we impose concepts on others that we would do well to apply to ourselves or something.

Why do you think Ellen has a problem with Scorpios? What does THAT mean?

Haha!! In astrology, Scorpios have something of a bad reputation. Many expect them to be devious or perverse, secretive, controlling or vengeful. It’s the sign of Scorpions, snakes, and vampires. Ellen has clearly either had some very bad experiences with scorpios in her life or learned astrology from someone who has a bias against them.

Thank you, Sara Beth for sharing with us!

Season 2, Episode 3: The AfterShow

Ever wanted to be a guest on your favorite podcast? It was one of those bucket list items that I figured would never happen. Until it did. I owe it all to a fellow (and an original) roomie. Josh held a raffle for guests spots on the show. While I was not lucky enough to get my name pulled, I was super excited for the winning roomies. It was such a cool and awesome group of people that I knew listening would be just as fun as being part of the group. (If you aren’t a roomie, you need to get on Facebook and join us. It truly is the happiest and most amazing group on all the internet. #roomie4lyfe) Vicki W. won a spot and sent me a message. She would like to gift her place to me, would I like to be on the AfterShow? (WOULD I? HECK YEAH! Play it cool, Sabin.) My reply, HECK YEAH! (Vicki, I think you are the classiest, most wonderful lady ever…and I even thought that BEFORE you passed on the AfterShow.) So, with that, a dream was realized.

The bloggers get advanced copies of the shows. In my email, Josh said that I may or may not want to listen to the episode early. This was a peculiar one and possibly, the magic of first impressions, could lead me to a better AfterShow experience. After some brief back and forth, it was decided that for the blog, I would go ahead and listen first. (Sure…for the blog…not because I am impatient and hate surprises. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) The only stipulation Josh had was he wanted the bloggers to write down our impressions while listening in real time. If you read part one of this blog, then you read my impressions. That episode was CRAZY!

I decided that while I knew the premise of the episode, I wouldn’t listen any additional times before we recorded. (When writing the blog, I tend to listen multiple times to make sure I cover all the information and try to not miss any clues.)

Finally, Monday night came. Between 8:00 and 8:55pm, I couldn’t sit still. It was like waiting for Christmas morning. I spent way to much time deciding what I would drink. (Hilltop Winery’s Hunter’s Moon. Represent VA!) I worried I’d geek out. (I did.) I freaked out that I would sound like a dork. (I did.) My anxiety began to kick in. I was nervous. I was excited. I could barely wait to actually talk to Cheryl, Jenn, Staci and Josh. Then, the clock struck 9:00. It was go time.

I jumped on Skype. My hands were, literally, sweating. Up popped Cheryl and Jenn. Their smiling faces; waving back at me over the miles. Instantly, I felt less stress. Then, Staci and Josh got in on the call. (I wish I could have seen Staci’s lovely self…instead, I was greeted with a reddish blob. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t look like that in real life. I’ve seen pictures of her…she’s ADORABLE!)

Josh gave us a brief run down regarding some technical stuff and a gauzy outline we would follow. The show is NOT scripted. The only information we were asked to prepare beforehand was who we are, how we found the podcast and what we were drinking. We began introductions. (I screwed up BIG TIME. I didn’t start off introducing myself. Like, seriously, I’ve had this name my whole life and I messed that up. I geeked out.) Josh asked us what confused us the most about the current season. Each guest roomie told what they were drinking and then, the gauntlet was thrown. The word of the night was “Mark”. (Can you imagine?)

Josh plays the entire episode, in pieces. Stopping at parts to ask questions and get guest input. It was MUCH harder than you think to Skype with four other people. Several of whom you can’t see via video feed and not talk over anyone. I apologize to Josh and the ladies for any talking over that occurred. You get excited and want to share or add to something said. (DORK! I’m a giant dork!) Several times, after Josh asked a question, there would be dead silence while we each waited for someone else to jump in. It was feast or famine with the roomie commentary! However, roomie commentary was insightful and eye opening. (With the bonus of Jenn’s cute beagle making a guest guest appearance!)

The Aftershow I participated in was for season one, episode three. This show is, to quote Josh, “VERY irregular”.  And, he ain’t kidding. (Sorry, Mom…I used ain’t and I ain’t fixing it!) The roomies had a great time listening to and discussing this particular episode. These are some of the things we noticed and talked about:

  • This episode has the twist of other podcast hosts reading a slightly modified version of the letters we heard in season one. The “guest” readers (Deana Marie, Steven Pappas, Cory Saceaux, and Donna Hume) did a fantastic job. However, as a loyal roomie, I have a love-hate relationship with the new voices of our favorite writers. It was especially jarring to hear Steven in this universe and I kept waiting for him to give me a mental health check in! (For those unfamiliar, Steven is one half of the Is This Adulting? podcast and this is part of his show.)
  • These letters are slightly different than the ones we heard in season one, episode nine of the same name, “In My Legal Opinion.” Most notable is how Rob signs his letters.
  • The newspaper article written by Ellen: real or fake? Possibly done as a humor piece? Local paper or written by a high school student?
  • The “detectives” are actually a director and Leslie, who is never where she’s supposed to be.
  • Ellen’s name being found linked to the cottage but, not the Karen that has been in touch wth Josh. Could the lease be traced through Karen’s father, who Mark stated had co-signed it? (Josh only TBA’d this. Damn you, Hallmark!)
  • Karaoke is from Di’s in Hawaii. Ellen travels to Hawaii. Is bad karaoke Ellen?
  • Timelines all screwy. (We have no words, we are still processing.)
  • Can Patrica be Patty? (It seems a legit assumption.)
  • HOLD MUSIC…. I can’t share this stuff! (Sorry, not sorry.)

Our evening came to an end and we each said our tipsy good-byes. The feeling of extreme satisfaction and utter happiness washed over me. (Or maybe that was the extra dishsoap?) It was fabulous to share this experience with Staci, Jenn and Cheryl. I am grateful to Josh for allowing us to be guests. (However, I can’t confirm if he was wearing pants or not as he was hidden behind a desk like a TV news anchor!)

As of this writing, the Aftershow has not been released. I’m curious to know how it sounds once it has been edited. I believe, if I don’t come off as a huge goof, that Josh is a master at his craft. However, the squealing fan-girl that resides in my soul, probably will not be contained!

Love and Avocados!

Steph

 

Behind-the-Scenes on Episode 3

  1. Episode 3 was originally going to be the season premiere, excluding Dot and Patti. I was going to reveal David and Leslie, and what exactly was going on somewhere in episode 3 or 4. I decided to push it back a few weeks before the season premiered, because I didn’t want to alienate folks. So, we started with the mystery of David and Leslie, and paid it off later with the actors.
  2. Patti was never supposed to be a voiced character, just someone referenced. Then something strange happened, and we decided it was important to give her a voice. Holly was cast the week of the premiere.
  3. When I decided to include actors playing our favorite letter-writers, I knew immediately that I wanted familiar voices playing those parts. Deana as Karen and Steven as Mark were the first people that came to mind. Then Donna. Then Cory.
  4. The only notes I gave our podcasters were not to try to imitate Sara, Sara, Jeff, and Matt. Play the parts in any way, with any interpretation, they liked.
  5. Along with Nina as Bonnie, we decided that during promotion for season 2, we’d give them all pseudonyms so that their appearances would be complete surprises. I chose similar names: Dana Hammers, Diane Milner, Steve Maple, and Cody Sisco. I can’t remember my original pseudonym for Nina, who requested Rita Colby instead.
  6. The muffled sound of the audio at the beginning was intentional. I wanted to make it clear it was a flashback to audio from season 1; I also wanted to stress the most important piece from it, and fade out during the second most important piece; both serving as clues for what was to come in the episode.
  7. David (played by Chris Green) is based on a real person; but since I know very little about him, other than his work, I based his personality very largely on an old boss of mine. When I was casting it, about 6 different people sent in audition tapes. Before listening, I thought Chris was the least likely. But his rendition sounded frighteningly like my old boss. It actually made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. I hired him immediately after listening.
  8. The conversation you’ll be hearing between Sara and me is multiple calls spliced together. On the longest of those calls, we recorded immediately after a PLAYLIST recording session, and I am very inebriated. If you listen closely, you can probably pick out which pieces.
  9. When I found out Patti lived in New York, I almost immediately started planning a recognizance trip up. I was very promptly talked out of it.
  10. There are multiple different people singing karaoke throughout the season. The woman from episodes 2 and 3 is hands-down my favorite.
  11. This was the first complete episode; but I began editing the sound design later, which made it the longest episode in post production. Sounds/music were super important to me this season.
  12. The reasons I used the letters I did in the acting segment, was because it was the only season one episode that included 2 or more letters from each letter-writer. That ended up being a very lucky coincidence though, because some of the content of those letters thematically enrich the storytelling in this season.
  13. Sara knows about 95% of what I know; the 5% she doesn’t know drives her up the wall.
  14. It was really important to me that hardcore listeners did the Aftershow for this episode, which is why I decided to make it the first Roomie Aftershow.
  15. I would put this episode in the top 3 of my favorite episodes of Karen & Ellen that I’ve created. I am really happy with the way it turned out, the way the story was told, and the doors its about to open.
  16. I almost didn’t include the Dot letter in this episode; but changed my mind because I didn’t want it to be totally disorienting.
  17. I did however make some formatting changes, because I didn’t want people to rely on certain mainstays. I wanted to keep people on their toes.
  18. Patti’s piece is eerily close to something “the real Patti” wrote. Like, I only changed what was necessary. I did not add anything to it.
  19. The Dot/Helena story has been my favorite one to tell this season.
  20. There’s one more similarly WTF episode around the bend.

4×4 with Chris Green (aka David)

1. What can you tell us about your role?

I know very little about this role. Josh has kept me in the dark, which I’m fine with, honestly.  I think I prefer to witness things unfold with the rest of the audience… until I don’t and then I will demand to know. The character’s name is Dave or David. He’s a middle-aged, [redacted by Josh] who is comically stereotypical. He’s also either gay or pretentious, or more likely both. I don’t even know if he’s a real person. If he is I want to meet him. He and I are nothing alike so it’s an interesting role to play. 

2. What were your first impressions after reading your scripts?

I auditioned for the part as a lark and did not expect to get it. I was thrilled when I did. The test script was great. I loved the character right away. The other parts have been short and don’t reveal much yet. One was just a brief moment “on set” that begin to reveal the personality of the character. I recorded some “bonus” audio that Josh didn’t ask for that really reveals who this character is. It’s up to Josh if that ever sees the light of day. Sign up as a Patreon supporter and maybe you’ll hear it there.   https://www.patreon.com/ouramericana 

3. How much do you know about the new season?

I don’t know anything, no more than the listener at this point. It’s like being in the cast of Game of Thrones with fewer zombies, be-headings, and dragons. And not as much incest… yet. I’m hoping for some dragons. Everyone loves dragons. 

4. How do you think people will respond to your role/character?

Excellent question. I’m not sure. My impression is that it’s a smaller part so there is no reason to have strong feelings for or against him. I suspect if you give him some space and allow him to be him, you can enjoy the character just fine. He doesn’t seem particularly polarizing in any way. He will add just the right amount of flavor to the situation. He could also be a raging a$$hole and everyone may hate him. Could go either way. I’m hoping for the former, not the latter. 

**Chris is also the host of the GravityBeard podcast. Check it out for whimsical observations on life and good-natured comedy.