Jay Carraro and Jesse Webber were good friends and familiar faces in the region’s live music scene when they decided to launch a podcast.
Kitchener Famous is all about poking fun at the idea of being locally famous, in a conversational, hangout-style format. Local musicians, comedians and venue owners make guest appearances on every episode.
“It was a chance for us to unwind together, and get to know the people [whose shows we couldn’t see] because we’d been playing so many ourselves,” Webber said.
“A way [for us] to get to know people, but also to shed light for other people as well.”
While the tone of the podcast can feel almost aggressively laid-back at times, absorbing multiple episodes reveals a strong underlying structure that was intentional from its inception.
“Loose, but tight. That’s what Jay and I agreed on from the very beginning,” Webber explained. “We do our homework, but when we [record] we kind of fly by the seat of our pants.”
Webber cites one of the most popular radio hosts of all time, Howard Stern, as an influence on the format of the show. “His show is very produced, but you can tell that everyone is having a good time.”
On each episode, guests share their experiences working professionally in the Region. The fact that Carraro and Webber can so frequently and directly relate to those experiences, elevates the theme of ‘local fame’ and how that actually affects a person’s career and attitude.
When asked to explain the Kitchener Famous title, Webber laughed. He explained that he and Carraro enjoy making fun of locals with inflated egos.
“When the bars were open, Jay and I would put Sundays aside to go to The Boathouse, or Rhapsody, to a jam – Mike’s Monster Jam. We’d come in with our matching, but unplanned flannel shirts, smelling like a Fleetwood Mac concert, grins printed on our faces. And without sounding pompous, people would gravitate toward that. Not only do we sound like we’re having a good time, we look like we’re having a good time. And we are, but we were [also] making fun of the confident idiots in the room … that’s what Kitchener Famous means,” Webber said.
“I think everyone wants to be famous, in some small way,” Carraro said. “The ‘confident idiot’ is what we laugh at, but also we want to show it off.”
Kitchener Famous guests also share their experiences meeting world-famous celebrities. These hilarious stories often reveal the surreal warping effect fame can have on a person’s life. When Webber and Carraro were asked if these segments have given them pause, as to whether they should be shared with the audience, the answer was a resounding, “Oh, yeah!”
“We say to our guests that we don’t mind if [they do] a bit of shit-talking. But there’s been a couple episodes where we’ve had to be like ‘yeah, let’s edit that,” Carraro explained.
Carraro said Episode 4, featuring interviews with Waterloo’s Western Swing Authority (WSA) band members Shane and Stacey Lee Guse, and Commercial Tavern owner Paul Weber, is his personal favourite so far.
The Commercial Tavern in Maryhill, a historic country venue about 15 minutes east of Kitchener, was where WSA had played regularly to packed crowds. But Weber and the Guse’s hadn’t seen each other for a long time because of the pandemic.
“You could tell they were just so excited to see each other again. They brought guitars … played a song, then at the end said ‘Can we do another?’ We’re like ‘You can play here all afternoon if you want!” Webber said.
While Kitchener Famous hasn’t released new episodes since Jan.15, Carraro said the show will return once he and Webber can produce it in their preferred way again.
“We’ve taken a bit of a break due to the recent lockdown. We prefer to have our guests in the room with us, with the proper precautions … maybe we’re just not good with technology, but we decided against [recording the podcast] over Zoom.”
The Kitchener Famous podcast is on Anchor.fm.
Matt McCarl, who was not interviewed, is the producer and editor for the Kitchener Famous Podcast.