Review Revue is a weekly podcast available on the Headgum network that takes a look at absurd reviews on the internet. Hosted by Reilly Anspaugh and Geoffrey James, this hilarious duo take a look at these reviews through a conversational and improv-comedy lens, sometimes accompanied by guests.
We got the chance to talk to both Reilly and Geoff about Review Revue, their favourite guests and how they came up with the concept of reviewing…well, reviews! Reilly is an actor/writer/singer who has starred in Good Mourning and The Baxters. Geoff is a writer/actor/comedian who writes for the Apple TV’s Carpool Karaoke and starred in College Humour Dropout’s Lonely and Horny’. Both regularly star in and write for the Headgum YouTube shows Off-Days and Geoffrey the Dumbass.
But Why Tho: Review Revue is such a unique show, what inspired you to create this podcast?
GEOFF: We knew we wanted to do an improv podcast, because Reilly and I have so much fun when we improvise as we write comedy sketches for Headgum’s Youtube channel, but we initially struggled with figuring out how to differentiate our show from the other… thousands of improv podcasts out there.
REILLY: Amir Blumenfeld, from Headgum, brought a version of this idea to us where we would read various funny reviews from across the internet and just discuss them. We eventually married the two ideas and came up with the title, Review Revue! The rest was, and is, history.
But Why Tho: Your friendship and camaraderie is such a delight to watch/listen to – when did you first realise how well you bounced off each other?
REILLY: I think as soon as I met Geoff when I started interning at Headgum, I felt like our senses of humor were really similar. We were able to joke around a lot and carry on ridiculous bits for insane amounts of time. When I came back to work full time writing and producing with Geoff, it just clicked. He…completes me. As a collaborator. I’m NOT crying, STOP asking.
GEOFF: For me, it was when Reilly came back to do the Geoffrey the Dumbass: Somme sketch, which was the first Headgum we specifically wrote together and collaborated on. After two years of writing and acting in comedy sketches every week, it was sort of a no-brainer to do a podcast together! Well that, and Conan turned me down. And then started his own podcast. Which is fine! I’m just pissed.
But Why Tho: What has been your favourite review subject so far?
REILLY: It’s a toss-up between “British Pubs Not in the UK” and “Haunted Houses” for me. “British Pubs” because it’s so specific, and “Haunted Houses” because they scare me too much, so I was able to learn about them from afar. And they’re still too– Yeah, I’m not about it.
GEOFF: I like “Lids,” because there really shouldn’t be a store for just hats.
But Why Tho: Have you ever been surprised by some of these reviews & the fact that a human being actually spent time writing them out?
REILLY: Absolutely. That’s one of the main reasons why we were so drawn to the concept of this show — people spending a good amount of time writing about their extreme feelings about things that don’t really matter. But they do matter if that makes sense.
GEOFF: You’ll never see a stronger opinion than in a Yelp review, both good and bad, so honestly I’m surprised almost every week. You wouldn’t think someone would take 45-minutes to complain about a wig, but then you find someone spending three paragraphs analyzing the realism of individual hair strands. It’s a comedy gold mine.
REILLY: We’ve been so lucky to get to play and hang with the guests that we’ve had so far! Each person brings their own sense of humor and sensibility to the show, which definitely keeps us on our toes when it comes to the improv portions since we’re so used to our dynamic as a duo. I feel like having guests on, especially when they’re people we look up to, forces me to be 1000% present because neither of us have any idea what will happen next.
GEOFF: I also think each guest episode is unique because we let the guest pick the episode topic. Like – Jon Gabrus has a Deli sandwich named after him. Georges Saba is a regular at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. Ryan Gaul genuinely loves Haunted Houses. Each guest brings their own personality to the show, which changes up our normal dynamic in a fun and challenging way. Also – even though we’ve recorded the majority of the show in quarantine, I feel like we’ve made genuine friendships with some of our guests, and I haven’t even had to leave my basement!
But Why Tho: Does the absurdity of some of these reviews help you when it comes to the comedic improv parts of the show?
GEOFF: Oh, 100%. For me, the fun of finding a review for the show each week is in digging through tens, sometimes hundreds of them to find that one gem that has a clear premise to pull from to inspire a funny improv scene. There are obviously so many places online to find funny memes/videos/etc, but I think the sites that we pull from (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon review sections, etc) are possibly the funniest corners of the internet. We just bring it to people’s attention and exaggerate it to the nth degree.
REILLY: I. Couldn’t. Agree. More. When the reviews are deliciously specific, the opportunities to pull fun details to start/add to scenes are endless.
REILLY: I already said I agreed with you. So obviously YOU agree too, right?
REILLY: Next questio–
GEOFF: NEXT QUESTION, yeah!
But Why Tho: Do you have any dream guests that you think would be perfect for the pod?
REILLY: Oh, we definitely have a “Golden Goose” list, which we add to all the time. There are so many guests we’d love to have on the show. I think Nicole Byer and Ben Schwartz are the top two names on my dream guest list at the moment. Like…could you imagine?
GEOFF: Yeah. Also Cedi Osman.
GEOFF: CEDI OSMAN! Starting small forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers? Turkey’s wonderchild?! REILLY: So Cedi’s at the top of GEOFF’s list.
But Why Tho: Adverts can be controversial with podcasts sometimes, but you both do a fantastic job of making them as entertaining as the rest of the show. How difficult is it to keep the audience engaged?
REILLY: We’re really grateful to have the opportunity to monetize the show, but, as avid podcast listeners ourselves, we know that ad breaks in the middle of our favorite shows can be a bit unwelcome. With that in mind, we try to blend the worlds of advertising and improv — making sure we do justice to our sponsors, while still keeping the improv/comedy spirit alive through the ads. We want to make the entire episode fun to listen to!
GEOFF: I personally draw inspiration from shows like Hollywood Handbook and Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, where the ads are just as funny as the show. Now we get messages from listeners saying that they enjoy the ads just as much as the show itself, which is a) nice to hear that we’re not boring the fans, and b) ultimately good for the sponsor because they’re getting genuine impressions and not paying for thousands of people to skip their ad. Everybody wins!
But Why Tho: How difficult has it been recording podcasts during this hellscape of a year? – have you been putting the show together remotely?
REILLY: We actually only recorded a small handful of episodes in person, weeks before Covid really took hold and the world shut down. So a good 90% of our show has been put together/recorded/produced from home. At first, doing improv over Zoom was…strange. But we finally found our groove, and it’s been pretty manageable! I really miss getting to record in person, and I can’t wait till it’s safe enough to go back into the studio again. I…I hope Geoff feels the same. Geoff?
GEOFF: I’m excited to be back in-studio, but I’m… worried, almost? That in some ass-backwards way I won’t be able to do it IRL again? I dunno. It’s sort of interesting.
REILLY: It’s not.
But Why Tho: If you had to describe Review Revue using just three words, what would they be?
REILLY & GEOFF (in off-putting unison): Absurd, Energetic, and… Sexy?
As you can tell by their answers, Reilly and Geoff have a fun rapport that makes for such an entertaining listen without ever a dull moment. It’s also true that their misfit energy rubs off on the guests who come on the show too, adding more joy to the various topics/reviews that they dive into. They’ve even managed to take something usually dull and distracting (adverts) and made them as engaging as the rest of the show. It’s a unique, laugh-a-minute show that I wholeheartedly recommend as a must-listen.