Last weekend I took a ride I’ll never forget. Friends of this site clued me in on a strange, obscure little show with the peculiar title Land Yacht Radio With Lefty & Red.
“So what is it?” I asked. “Is it a podcast? A radio talk show? And what the heck is a Land Yacht?”
“Don’t ask, just tune in and get back to us.” they answered.
I did, and a week after finishing the first season of the show, I’m still laughing.
At first glance it seems innocuous enough. A small, low power radio show broadcast from an antique Airstream Trailer (with the name Land Yacht) somewhere in the rural wooded hills of Wisconsin in a place called The Driftless Area. (I checked Google Maps, and it actually exists.)
With that limited info, I imagined a quaint, rural show spoofing small town life, something like A Prairie Home Companion; safe, clean, low energy humor more suited for my Grandparents NPR tastes than my more “sophisticated” comic sensibilities. Holy Man, was I ever wrong!
The pilot episode, aptly titled The Pilot Episode, introduces us to our two hosts, Lefty and Red. They’re a husband and wife on-air team who started up the station after trying for eight unsuccessful seasons to grow mangoes in Wisconsin. They are bright, cheerful people, although she seems to carry some mysterious baggage in her past, and he proudly wears a stainless steel claw on his left hand due to a "welding accident". The show moves quickly from simple weather forecasts (sticking your head out the window) and traffic reports from deserted rural highways, all interspersed with hilarious, fictional commercials from businesses in the area. We’re also introduced to a few of the characters working at the station, I won’t go into detail (that’s for you to discover) but all are memorable and extremely funny. The close of the show is a call-in segment called Ask Your Neighbor, the kind of thing you’d hear on a road trip driving through a rural region anywhere in the country. Folks from the area wanting to swap farm items, report on goings on in their community or just calling in to say "Hello". Sounds boring, right? Wrong! This was the highlight of the show and had me shaking my head in delight as the closing music played.
Okay, simple and very funny. But how many episodes could I listen to of this kind of small town hokum? Well, my friends, that’s the brilliance of this show.
All great comedy series need to establish a groundwork; characters, locations and plots, before they can expand and grow and challenge the audience. Think of the first few episodes of Seinfeld; funny enough and watchable, but not nearly as hilarious or over-the-top as their ensuing seasons. No soup for you! They needed to build the characters and situations, make you familiar with the groundwork of the Seinfeld world, to get you hooked in. And that’s exactly the Land Yacht formula.
As I got into Episodes Two and Three I could feel that groundwork expanding under my feet. Remote broadcasts, special guest interviews, and emphasis on the supporting characters, giving them more story, more focus and more life. And the hilarity took off from there. I experienced tapping trees for maple syrup, wilderness survival techniques (complete with talking grubs), psychedelic mushroom trips, inter-dimensional travel, talking squirrels—the list goes on and on, but I don’t want to give too much away.
Some of the plot lines also pay homage to famous films, like Ocean’s Eleven, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Island of Doctor Moreau (featuring a Marlon Brando calf breeder.)
The brilliance of this show rests on what all good comedy does; sound writing and character development. The shocking thing is, as far as I can tell, it is all written, produced, performed and edited by only two people; Lefty & Red. (I tried to get some behind the scenes info on the show, but all of the website information portrays Land Yacht Radio as an actual radio show with real hosts). With dozens of unique characters, dense and complex plot lines and top-of-the-line production values, it’s more than a little mind-boggling that two people handled all of these diverse roles. But they did.
Needless to say, after Episode Three I was hooked. On a rainy Saturday afternoon I popped in a pizza and binge listened to the entire series, ending on a shocking and side-splitting season finale. I can only pray for a second season.
If you’re in the mood for a head shaking, hilarious listening experience, I urge you to jump on to Land Yacht Radio.
You’ll love the ride.
You can listen to Land Yacht Radio With Lefty And Red
Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/land-yacht-radio-with-lefty-red/id1511779622
Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iza46nytbvwfgzesbvteygreuc4
Nick Sirini is a freelance writer and co-editor of Pod-Spot.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.