I don’t talk to my roommates super often. We all work different schedules and between classes and having social lives we just don’t see much of each other. I mostly check in with them often enough to know they are healthy and alive and not spawn of Satan. That last bit wasn’t a huge concern of mine until I came across Roommate from Hell, a podcast about, well, pretty much what the title implies. I got to talk with Nick Douglas, the show’s co-creator, about his podcast and I’m excited to tell you all about it!
Nick has worked in several different mediums, including writing and television, and wanted to find a medium that wasn’t going to present so many “production problems.” From having too small a budget to produce the quality content he and his co-creator, Tim, wanted to the practical struggle of filming outdoors year-round in New York, Nick wanted to find something they could pull off and do really well. So they started throwing around ideas: “what’s something that’s really contained?” “Oh, it can take place in an apartment in New York.” From there, supernatural ideas kept coming up, but they just knew they wouldn’t be able to do the idea justice as a television show.
Then Nick remembered his love for fictional-radio shows. “It’s bizarre how little of podcasting is fiction and drama, given that radio shows were a big deal for a long time,” he explained. So Nick and Tim had a plan and Roommate from Hell was born. Nick explained a little more what the show is about: “Roommate from Hell is a scripted audio fiction show… our story is about an actual demon who lives with a human… they live together in Brooklyn and they have adventures.” Called a “cartoon for your ears” by their producer, Nick likens the show to Rick and Morty or The Good Place and says it’s “a horror-comedy that’s very light on the horror.” But having a great idea and a medium isn’t everything, and Nick and Tim had a lot to figure out.
“There are formats that lend themselves to very easy production,” Nick said, citing narrative shows that have “found a smart way to have it make sense that you’re just getting one person’s monologue.” Roommate from Hell didn’t choose that format and chose “something that’s a little closer to what a tv show’s like where you’re just witnessing some characters.” That means a little (or a lot) more work to produce the show and really make it sound like the listener is observing the story, but even that is difficult with such an experimental medium. “It’s hard to figure out the expectations are because… this isn’t a very well-worn path where everyone has figured out what works and what doesn’t work and what rules you can break and when.” But for all that figuring out, the show has been a lot of fun to make.
“I love every stage of it,” Nick told me, explaining that this is a nice shift compared to other projects which always have at least one stage that is entirely unappealing. Specifically, Nick has loved watching the actors learn to play off of each other really well and more and more quickly: “we only do two or three takes, which is insanely efficient.” The show is planning on diversifying the type of episodes they’re putting out in the coming months, but Nick is keeping in mind what listeners have enjoyed most as he works on new content.
So, if you love a good story, demons, Brooklyn, or just great audio narrative, listen to Roommate from Hell and leave a rating and review to let Nick know what you think!
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