Street gangs. Tupperware. Internet censorship. Pinewood derbies. Male puberty. Water slides. Clowns. Those are some of the topics that Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark have tackled on the “Stuff You Should Know” podcast in the last couple of months – and they’ve been at it, twice weekly, since 2008. Listening to the show is something like hanging out at a neighborhood bar where a “Jeopardy!” champion occupies the last stool.
Clark and Bryant share an amiable chemistry, a penchant for rambling pop culture digressions, and a seemingly inexhaustible curiosity. They’ll be bringing all of that to the Trocon Wednesday night, as they perform a live version of the podcast and take questions from the audience. The hosts are remaining tight-lipped about the subject they’ll tackle, but welcome any chance to interact with their dedicated fanbase. “The two of us are usually stuck in that studio,” Bryant says, “so it’s great to be able to get face to face with people.”
Bryant and Clark were hired within a few months of one another as writers for the website HowStuffWorks, and about a year later Clark was tapped to host an experiment in the relatively new medium of podcasting. Several hosts were tried in the early days until Bryant appeared and the pairing stuck. “We just clicked because we were already work buddies,” Bryant recalls. “Nothing you hear is scripted. We just sit down and have a conversation as naturally as we can and I think that’s been the secret sauce.”
While the show at its best is fun and informative, the hosts have been surprised to hear from fans say the show helped them through difficult periods in their own lives – shows on death, dying and grief in particular. “We feel like when we can entertain and educate, that’s a great show,” Bryant says. “When we can do that and also help someone in some way, that’s the cherry on top.”
The show has since spun off into Clark’s web video series “Don’t Be Dumb,” a website of their own, and a short-lived scripted series for the Science Channel in 2013. A book is in the works, and their current East Coast run is one of four short tours the duo is undertaking this year. Bryant says that he was nervous in their initial live appearances (usually at Comic Cons or science fairs), but has grown to feel comfortable in front of crowds.
“I remember being scared out of our minds in front of maybe a hundred people, and now we’re getting up in front of a thousand people and really enjoying it,” he says. “The adrenaline rush is real. I can’t imagine what real rock stars feel like, because we feel like rock stars just being a couple of nerds up on stage talking about stuff.”
Stuff You Should Know
June 24, 8 p.m.
1003 Arch St.