We make Hello from the Magic Tavern a fully improvised comedy podcast from a magical land. We just started season 2 recently. We'd love you to listen and subscribe wherever you get podcasts. And we welcome your questions. Answering Qs will be: Arnie Niekamp (misterarnie) Matt Young the voice of Usidore (TheMattYoung) Adal Rifai the voice of Chunt the badger (adalrifai) Ryan DiGiorgi the voice of Craig (hexfield) Evan Jacover, producer (evanjacover)

Here's some proof: https://twitter.com/misterarnie/status/847874510992924672

Comments: 616 • Responses: 22  • Date: 

Scrumpy725 karma

The Mysterious Man used to do the closing credits, but now always forces Craig to do them. Is that just an in-universe gag, or did Tim Sniffins really hate reading the same thing every week?

hexfield29 karma

Most of the reason for this is that Tim lives out of the country. Due to the time difference, there's always a certain amount of delay in getting things to and from him, so Craig handles the parts of the show that we think might change last minute. That way we can drop in a plug or something. Also, let's face it, Tim's true passion is making fun of Matt and Adal every week.

misterarnie15 karma

It's also worth mentioning that Craig is just great, and so it's nice to have them both in there. Originally he was introduced, honestly, because the credits usually have to be recorded last minute, you can't really bank a bunch, and ther'es always the risk of illness or scheduling conflicts... it just doens't make sense not to have a back-up. But Craig is a really fun character and we really do hope to do more stuff exploring that world this season.

Young-Wolf25 karma

How much preparation goes into the development of an episode and how much of it is actually improv? Do you guys have an outline you try to stick to or do you just go with whatever flows naturally? Love the show, thanks for doing this!

misterarnie71 karma

It is really almost entirely improv. We have loose (sometimes changing ideas) of where we're going on a larger scale for the series, but it's rare for the individual episodes to have any kind of outline. I email with the guests a little beforehand asking them to pitch three character ideas, just a sentence to get a broad sense of the concept, and I pick one or give thougths on massaging one slightly to work better. This is mostly to make sure we don't do something we've done before and hopefully have a variety of types of characters episode to episode. Some guests prepare a lot of details about their character, some prepare nothing (I usually ask them to at least have a name so we can just easily introduce them). Sometimes Matt and Adal know what the guest character will be beforehand, sometimes not. We just chat and improvise, during the "break" we usually stop for a minute or two, I ask if there's a particular direction the guest or anyone wants to definitely go in, usually everyone says no, I check on how long the first segment was, we improvise again until the "flourish" then we do emails then it's done. Then we record the next one. We definitely talk about things in the story and the characters when we're not recording, but during actual episodes we think we get a better result from mostly letting things happen in the moment. If you're trying too hard to push towards specific beats you can feel the heavy hand on the wheel. But occasionally we do have epsidoes where we know we want something to happen at the end, like Usidore accidentally saying the Dark Lord's name, but we try to keep it pretty open as to how it happens, and it usually just sort of happens out of the blue. Even an episode as complex as the Dr. Ward episode had a little disucssion beforehand and we knew the ending would involve some sort of revelation that it was an illusion but everythign else was just pure improv.

robertbrower14 karma

I keep giving Usidore all of the birds that I humanly can but so far it seems to have little to no effect. Will our beloved lighter blue wizard ever return to his former boisterous glory?

TheMattYoung18 karma

[shake, shake, shake] Future uncertain.

misterarnie22 karma

I love that Matt really pushes himself to find different takes on Usidore, to go through little arcs of him being different, or just dealing with something. I think he's also, more than us other two, better about not letting those things overstay their welcome.

StickerBrush11 karma

Do you ever regret having Chunt actually change into something? I've always thought that early change (when he turned into a tiny horse with two buttholes) took away a potential gag of "is Chunt really a shapeshifter, or just a talking badger?"

misterarnie9 karma

I also thought that was a really funny idea. I wouldn't say I regret it, but at the time I was definitely into that idea/possibility/interpretation.

nails_tails_ales10 karma

Just made a stupid excited noise when I saw you were doing this AMA!!

Apologies if this has been asked already but any chance of an east coast/ NYC live show?? Would love to see you guys in person. The live shows have been some of my favorites!

I've been banking all the new episodes this year to save for a road trip I'm taking next week. Can't wait to catch up with what's been happening in the land of Foon!!

Edit: also i have to say my favorite side character is Pizza Skull!!

misterarnie6 karma

Nothing scheduled but as I mentioned in another answer, a New York trip is one of our top priorities becuase we have a lot of really cool friends we'd love to record while we're out there. And we actually have a number of possible trips to do that currently floating around, so it's a fair bet we'll be doing something this year hopefully.

bwestho10 karma

I have been really impressed by the evolution of the mysterious man. I think his story is really surprising and smart. How much of the mysterious man's story was planned from the beginning vs. improvised and discovered along the way? What were the goals/reasons for the role when you started the podcast, and have they changed at all as you've gone?

misterarnie17 karma

As we were first thinking about the structure of the show, I was thinkign about how we wanted to have credits, so, you know, you could know who the cast is and they could plug stuff, but that I also wanted to maintain the reality of the show. I didn't want to have somene break character to plug their twitter handle or something. But I also wanted to solve the problem through story. So I had the idea to have a narrator of some kind that very clearly had their own agenda. I thought it was funny to have a character that was actually telling the truth about the show but was so adamant about it that maybe the fiction would be more real. And hopefully it's own story would slowly build. Originally I thought about it a lot in relation to Lemony Snicket and how the sad backstory of that narrator slowly seeped into the story. So, yeah, a man in space very determined to read the credits in a way that seemed a little too eager to cover things up. That idea was there from the beginning. And with those first episodes I honestly thought that was really apparent. I thought it was clear that something was up with the Mysterious Man and that he shouldn't be taken at face value. But I don't think anyone else got that, really. So we did Homesick, giving him his own episode. And stuff slowly (some might say too slowly) evolved from there.


Hi Arnie. I really like your podcast.

What would you say are the best entry point episodes for HFTMT? Starting from the beginning is a good choice I suppose, but are there any stand out episodes in your head that don't rely as heavily on previously established lore?

misterarnie16 karma

We try to make every episode fairly jump-in-able... which is why I spend so much time shoe-horning in quick explanations of things when possible. And there are only a few really really weird ones that are probably bad ideas to listen to without context. But I for new guests who may have never listened and just want a good stand-alone episode to get a feel for the show I almost always recommend the episode "Skeleton" because it's really fun and we mostly focus in on the guest, a skeleton who hangs out in the beginning of dungeons so adventurers can get warmed up and defeat him easily, and really explore what his life is like. Also the skeleton is played by the great TJ Jagodowski, and amazing Chicago improviser, part of the great show TJ and Dave, and, I guess you're most likely to know him as one of the Sonic commercial guys. But that's a good jumping in point, I think.

invisobill429 karma

Hey guys, love the podcast! It seems like Foon is a very sex positive and gender positive place. Is that a conscious effort on your part or did it just happen naturally? Or was it a consequence of Adal putting casual bestiality on the table in the first episode?

Also, Siblings Peculiar and The Probe are seriously both top notch, I love them both a ton

misterarnie19 karma

I think it's a number of things. One I think it's just in the culture and something we care about generally. I think also you're probably right that Adal's character's identity being very wrapped up in sex, and us trying to have a positive spin on something that could be very oogy or dark pushed things in that direction. Also, I believe strongly that the podcast should be a place you want to spend time in, so there's a weird challenge of being in a world that in truth could probably be quite terrible and bleak. I think we weren't interested in creating a world that was even worse for women and minorities, etc, so we decided to frame it as a place that is very open and progressive (but also sometimes awful, I mean, torture seems pretty widely okay). So, we try. But I hesitate to pat ourselves on the back because we're far from perfect. But that stuff does matter to us.

LiquidGaga8 karma

Hey! Love the show! It seems like the plotline of spintax being on earth has been completely dropped; do you guys plan to get back to that at some point?

hexfield18 karma

Arnie can say more, but that mostly came about due to Charlie (Spintax) moving to L.A. However, thanks to Earwolf, we've now got easier access to L.A. recording spaces and have gotten a pretty good process worked out for remote guests. So more Spintax is definitely on the table.

misterarnie11 karma

I think the biggest delay with checking in with Spintax on Earth has been that there's a specific idea we have for it that keeps causing it to be delayed for one reason or another, and that idea kind of bottlenecks doign other stuff with Spintax. That's why we introduced the Pandenomicon character to have a Spintax but not Spintax character. Hopefully we'll get to Spintax before too long.

SeventeenFiveTShirt7 karma

Who are you routing for in the final four?

misterarnie24 karma

I'm not much of a router.

gustavfrigolit7 karma

You got brought in to Comedy Bang Bang at one point, any chance to have Scotty Auks as a guest character?

misterarnie7 karma

We'd love to. There are so many great Earwolf hosts and regulars we'd love to have on. And many that have expressed interest in doing it. It mostly comes down to the fact we're in Chicago and they mostly don't come through here, and when they do it's on a very tight schedule. But next time we're in LA, like last time, we hope to record a bunch of episodes out there. We just need to find the time (or excuse) to make the trip. Same goes for New York (we have a lot of awesome friends there). As for Aukerman specifically, I"d love to have him on, I know he does do characters a lot, I wonder if he'd do it. We'll definitely ask.

johnnymillion5 karma

I was worried the podcast was ending after the 100th episode, but you have a new energy now that the Dark Lord has taken over. Were you ever considering stopping the show?

misterarnie11 karma

We've had the idea that whenever Usdiroe was finally ready to leave on his quest, the Dark Lord would just step into the tavern and lock shit down... for at least a year or so. Probably more. Just the agreement that, "Well, whenever we get to that, it seems like a good idea to transition to this." And we have other floating things like that as well for further down the road, possible big story shifts that we're exctied to get to, but also open to letting the story take us somewhere else.

thetalentedfool4 karma

Do you guys have plans to add any new tour and con visits to celebrate Season 2? Maaaaybe some places down south? (coughcough Dragoncon)

misterarnie12 karma

We really want to travel more and do more live shows. The challenge is that most of us also have full time jobs, and ironically the show is about a guy who abandoned his family, but in truth it's hard for me to spend too much time away from my family so we really try to consider how to get the most out of what limited time we have to travel. But we're actively trying to be more thoughtful about where we go and how we do it, partly to make it best for our fans, but also, of course, to figure out what way can make it most profitable for us. We have a few cool things potentially in the works, for this year, but nothing I can talk about right now. And so far nothng in the south, but we shoudl certainly rectify that.

mishystellar3 karma

What's your favorite song that has been sung so far on an episode (or live show)? Personally, I'm fond of the Sharks love song but all of them have been winners.

Also, who is opening all the mystery boxes you bought from that kobald now that you have been defeated? Did the dark lord take everything that remained?

misterarnie10 karma

When we first heard the Usidore song it was really a big moment. I think you can hear me say "holy shit" at the end of it and that was geunine. Adal and I sing along with it at a couple moments which I suspect people interpret as it being soemthign we'd heard before but we hadn't. But yeah, hearing a big epic song about one of our silly little characters was very affecting. Along those lines, Spurt the Elder's rap about Usdiore during the live Chunt's Night really moved me. Again, this joyful expression of all these silly running gags that everyoen in teh audience shared and understood felt like a really big thing to me. Also, man, having Mike Doughty do a song for our show was crazy. I'm a big fan and it meant a lot.

K1ng_V3 karma

Hey guys! Fairly new/old listener. Still in process of catching up, on episode 44. Just curious though, how long do you guys intend to keep this masterpiece going?

misterarnie6 karma

I think we'd love to do it for a very very long time. And as much as the idea that our first season was 100 episodes long kind of seems like a joke (and Tim Sniffen, the voice of the Mysterious Man emailed me and said, "Seriously, you should make season 2 five episodes long and then do season 3") I think it's also a clue that this show can be viewed as a very long story with different eras. That said, as much as I think we all would love to do it for years and years and years, it is also an awful lot of work, and it becomes more work over time. It keeps earning more money but also, no one really makes anywhere close to what they deserve for the time they put in. So, there are times when things get especially busy, that I can see that it's not 100% a given that we wouldn't decide a year or two from now that it was time to wrap it up.

solarvalkyrie3 karma

Question for each of you: how do you feel about cosplayers' interpretations of your characters, especially the cross-players? Any favorites?

Side note: I can no longer listen to this podcast while at work because my laughter cannot be contained :) thanks for the great times!

misterarnie4 karma

I lover all the cosplay and all the fan art. If people don't know, boy that stuff means so much to us. And regardless of the subject, isn't cross-play almost always the best cosplay?

misterarnie7 karma

Wait... "I lover"? What am I trying to say?

Jrrtubbs3 karma

Of all the insulting descriptions given to you from the mysterious man, which one was your favorite? Are any of you in the room when that is recorded (other than Craig).

misterarnie6 karma

Tim actually records all of those from his numerous different places he's called home over the years, currently in England, so usually no one else is there not even Ryan who plays Craig. And I don't usually get insulted in those. But that does remind me of being at a wedding last summer in Chicago, with a lot of improvisers there, and I walked up to two guys chatting who had both been on the podcast semi-recently and they said they had been chatting about Tim and his funny insults at the end of their episodes. One said he was kind of disappointed that he hadn't gotten insulted harder, that he thought it was a badge of honor to really get made fun of. The other said, "Oh no. No. It was too honest. He sees me too clearly."

sambalaya2 karma

What did you learn from producing and hosting the Mystery Cove and Stupid Nerd podcasts that helped you with HftMT?

misterarnie5 karma

Stupid Nerd (where I just chatted with friends about nerdy things I didn't know anything about) I think helped me interview in a way where I could both ask broad questions that allow the guest room to share what they want, but jump on some idea that seemed really weird or silly and try to challenge it/tease it out a bit. Sort of fishing for moments that make you go, "Whoa, wait, we need to talk about THAT more." Mystery Cover is a little more complicated. It was an improvised podcast that was framed as the supplementary promotional podcast for a LOST-type show that didn't really exist. So every episode was supposedly the creators of the TV show (myself and Steve Waltein who also plays Prince Tomblaine) talking about an episode that had just aired and answering viewer emails. So we'd make up weird stuff happening on the show (to the point where it seemed like a crazy really insane hard to follow mystery show) and hint at all these big problems behind teh scenes and (my favorite part) let whatever the real emails made up about what was happening on the show be real and add to the insanity of the TV we never saw. I really loved that idea of letting the listener very actively play along and help create the world. And I loved having a podcast where the real story (the behind the scense stuff) just kind of crept in from teh side and built over time. Doing Magic Tavern was partly an attempt to explore some of those things again in a different way. The email stuff I think is a big part of the fun of Magic Tavern, but is ulimately not allwoed to have quite as much sway. I still try to find the right balance of how much to let the chaos of emails control the show.

illuminatedwax2 karma

How awesome is your new production assistant, Garrett Schultz? Seems like a pretty cool dude!

misterarnie4 karma

He's okay.

kittycathat2 karma

Hi guys!

I'm a big fan of the podcast, it's def in my top three and the only one that I listen to that I've been able to get others hooked on too!

I work at a public library where we've recently gotten the administration to finally give us the resources to start a library podcast! Obviously our content is pretty different from what you guys do, but do you have any tips for effectively getting a podcast off the ground and increasing listenership? Or any general tips on producing a fantastic podcast? We've done seven episodes so far and they've been well-received, but we want to increase the number of people we reach.

P.S. Through the magic of the weird universe, I have a friend that went to high school with Adal and one that went to college with Adal that don't know each other. I also technically went to college with Adal but never met him. I found all this out in the same day and it blew my mind.

misterarnie3 karma

My advice (beyond make it sound as good as possible and be as consistent with releases as possible) is to collaborate as much as you can. If have guests, know what guest selection can be something that draws in new listeners. It sounds cynical and it's obviously not the only consideration, but guests who have a decent following (and would be willing to share their involvement) are valuable. Also try to collaborate with other podcasts of similiar interests if you can. Their listeners may like your podcast and vice versa. And if possible, collaborate with your listeners. Give them a way to feel more connected and involved.