Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Babbling the (Bleep) On with Ralph and Kevin in Hollywood

Hollywood Babble-On

It's 10 p.m. on a Friday in Hollywood -- and it's time for Ralph Garman and Kevin Smith to "babble the f*** on."

As Garman and Smith lead another week of their live stage show/podcast hybrid Hollywood Babble-On, Garman informs Smith that the show is a sell-out.

Not bad for what's essentially two fanboys on stage reading emails, doing funny voices and making fun of pop culture. In less than a year in existence, "Hollywood Babble-On" has formed the cornerstone of a rapidly growing podcast empire overseen by Smith.

Smith's loyal fan base (in spite of "Jersey Girl") helped stoke those fires. But in their home turf of L.A. (it's actually the Universal CityWalk, not quite Hollywood), the crowd is sending much of their love toward Garman. While the actor and impressionist is still virtually unknown in most of the country, Garman is a star in Los Angeles, thanks to his decade-plus tenure on KROQ's top-rated "Kevin & Bean" morning show.

Garman is no slouch, having hosted "The Joe Schmo Show," provided voices to Seth MacFarlane animated series like "Family Guy" and having even appeared in the campy Syfy original movie "Sharktopus." And "Kevin & Bean" is now nationally syndicated, beaming everything from his filthy take on Sean Connery to his hourly entertainment reports throughout the country.

But it's Garman's recent partnerships with cult fave movie director Smith that may have finally set him on a bigger path. As a frequent guest on "Kevin & Bean," Smith would sit in with Garman as the morning personality riffed on showbiz news. Eventually, the duo decided to take it on the road, and to Smith's "Smodcastle" performance space in West Hollywood.

They dubbed the show "Hollywood Babble-On" (essentially an R-rated version of KROQ's "Ralph Showbiz Beat") and posted it online as a podcast. Around the same time, Smith took his horror flick "Red State," which features a chilling performance by Garman -- out on the road. The podcast took off, and soon Smith began creating countless more (everything from a morning show to a "Saturday Night Live" retrospective with Jon Lovitz to a new show featuring comedian Jay Mohr).

Garman, meanwhile, had found a whole base of new fans worldwide who had never heard of the World Famous KROQ or his impersonations of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charlie Sheen or Justin Bieber.

"Hollywood Babble-On" eventually outgrew Smith's "Smodcastle" (which he is now moving out) and found a new home at the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club at Citywalk. And now Lovitz has even contracted the podcasting bug, opting to rename the venue the "Jon Lovitz Podcast Theater."

I've been a fan of "Kevin & Bean" for more than 15 years (before Garman even joined as "Ralph the New Guy"), as have my friends Paul and Diane. So we all met up last Friday to check out "Hollywood Babble-On" for the first time. We were asked to get there early, so we did -- but ended up waiting outside for a long time anyway.

But that was a small hiccup in what was otherwise an enjoyable evening. Smith and Garman were both in top form as they improvised gags and quipped about the week's events. They read emails from listeners and audience members. And they recognized Hollywood stars no longer with us. As always, the show ends on a series of jokes about one of Liam Neeson's more impressive features (and we're not talking "Schindler's List").

It's a fun, simple show, and definitely one worth checking out again. " Besides its CityWalk base, "Hollywood Babble-On" is heading to Comic-Con next week and will be producing a series of shows in Texas. More pics below:

Hollywood Babble-On

Hollywood Babble-On

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