Duncan Carson Has a Lot to Celebrate

January 21, 2024

Photo Credit

Erin Holsonback / An Indoor Lady


Valerie Lopez


Valerie Lopez

When you’ve watched someone’s career for almost a decade and had them on your pod­cast as many times as we have, it’s hard not stray into friends hang­ing out mode and for­get that you’re sup­posed to be inter­view­ing” them. This is why it’s hard to resist rem­i­nisc­ing (about Sure Thing) and slip­ping into a lit­tle Poirot discussion. 

But alas, this is our anniver­sary pod­cast episode which tra­di­tion­al­ly means bring­ing back our very first guests to cel­e­brate with us – Bren­dan K. O’Grady and Dun­can Car­son! Except, our pal BKO (a nod to his Insta­gram han­dle @yourpalBKO) has left the frozen tun­dra (in Austin, that just means tem­per­a­tures have fall­en below 60) for the rainy climes of Port­land, Ore­gon. I’m delight­ed to have Dun­can join me for his 6th appear­ance on Com­e­dy Wham Presents because it’s a dual cel­e­bra­tion! Not only is it Com­e­dy Wham Presents’ 8th anniver­sary of pod­cast­ing, but at the time of record­ing, the 13th show anniver­sary of Carson’s newest project, Fall­out Tonight and the com­pan­ion pod­cast Sign­ing Off. Sure Thing Records is also work­ing on new projects this year, too.

The first three weeks of Fallout Tonight (ticket sales) were very low, and the nerves were very high.
Duncan Carson

After 512 shows, Sure Thing, the co-host­ed standup show­case, wrapped up on Octo­ber 6, 2023, and sev­en days lat­er, Car­son launched Fall­out Tonight, a late-night vari­ety show. Held every Fri­day night at 9:30 at Fall­out The­ater, Carson’s brain­child opens with him deliv­er­ing a mono­logue fea­tur­ing jokes on cur­rent events, three tra­di­tion­al standup sets with a post-set inter­view, and drop-ins by assort­ed char­ac­ters. And by assort­ed char­ac­ters”, it could be the beloved Com­ic Stuck in a Well” (played by Kather­ine Hutchins), an escaped North Pole Elf (played by Gar­rett Buss), or anoth­er delight­ful surprise.

Of the first few weeks, Car­son admit­ted the first three weeks of Fall­out Tonight (tick­et sales) were very low, and the nerves were very high.” But with­in a month the room began fill­ing out. The word needs to get out, and much like Sure Thing, it takes time before con­sis­tent sell­outs are achieved. There’s a recur­ring theme to the con­ver­sa­tion with Car­son. There’s so much work that goes into putting on a show. The care­ful struc­ture, the music playlist with delib­er­ate time stamps, the Wednes­day night writ­ing room, let alone book­ing the per­form­ers. Even with all this effort, Car­son keeps com­ing back to how much fun he’s been hav­ing putting the shows together. 

The show didn’t hap­pen overnight. Far from it. O’Grady gave Car­son a long lead time as far as his move to Ore­gon and Car­son didn’t want to give up on some kind of per­for­mance. It didn’t make sense to replace (gasp!) O’Grady for a new co-host­ed standup show­case and Car­son want­ed to try some­thing new. With the real­iza­tion that announce­ments and oth­er impro­vised riff­ing dur­ing Sure Thing were train­ing him, he con­ceived the idea of the impro­vised inter­views with comics on Fall­out Tonight. Car­son achieved that elu­sive Tik­Tok viral sta­tus with his Your News in a Minute dai­ly videos that he post­ed for a year and real­ized that was train­ing him for the open­ing monologue.

The vision was com­ing togeth­er, but a team would be need­ed to help. Lisa Friedrich (co-own­er of Fall­out The­ater and accom­plished com­ic) signed on to help pro­duce the show. Long time friends with pre-pan­dem­ic com­e­dy fix­tures, Jon Men­doza (Cap City Com­e­dy Club Fun­ni­est Per­son in Austin win­ner, 2018) and Adam Shu­mate, Car­son invit­ed them to be part of the writ­ing team. Bonus con­tent is cre­at­ed when the trio record their week­ly Sign­ing Off pod­cast imme­di­ate­ly after Fall­out Tonight wraps up. They debrief on the show and whatever’s going on in their lives.

I don’t know how to describe how thrilling and exciting it has been for me . . . it feels like doing drugs.
Duncan Carson

Car­son has nev­er been shy about his admi­ra­tion of fel­low Sure Thing Records part­ner O’Grady, and he gush­es open­ly about how Men­doza and Shu­mate have helped him in this new role. The col­lab­o­ra­tion with two bril­liant come­di­ans that usu­al­ly get what I’m going for… (has) turned out to be the most organ­ic fun part of the show.” That and get­ting them back on stage more and more, includ­ing the night that I was on where Men­doza, Shu­mate, and I played a riotous live action game of Apples to Apples. Car­son, just as he did for over a decade with O’Grady, gets to hang out with his best friends at least once a week. The more things change (brand new show), the more they stay the same (week­ly hang with friends), one could posit. 

The one thing that strikes me in our con­ver­sa­tion is Carson’s excite­ment about the new ven­ture. Car­son has always been the chill guy in our past con­ver­sa­tions, let­ting O’Grady excit­ed­ly talk and pro­mote this or that new project. That was the well-estab­lished yin and yang of the Sure Thing duo. With Fall­out Tonight, a ver­sion of Car­son has emerged where he’s now the one excit­ed­ly talk­ing and pro­mot­ing his new project. Case in point. If you ask him how the new show is going, he’s like­ly to respond, I don’t know how to describe how thrilling and excit­ing it has been for me … it feels like doing drugs.” We’re thrilled for him, and you should be, too. You can expe­ri­ence the high for your­self every Fri­day night at Fall­out The­ater, 9:30pm.

Fol­low Duncan

Fol­low Fall­out Tonight

Fol­low Sure Thing Records

See Dun­can

  • Fall­out Tonight — Week­ly on Fri­days, 9:30pm at Fall­out Theater
  • Sign­ing Off Pod­cast — Week­ly episode recap­ping Fall­out Tonight with Jon Men­doza and Adam Shumate
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Duncan Carson