In celebration of 28 Plays Later‘s appearance at last weekend’s PAX Australia, we threw a few questions at Paul (pictured above right) about how the terrific twosome came to be.
28 Plays Later is a weekly gaming podcast that is a genuine dose of pop-culture-infused fun. Hosts Paul Verhoeven and Kris Straub don’t even live in the same country, so you can imagine it would be quite interesting to bring it all together every week. I threw a few questions at Paul post-PAX-chaos to see how the production happens, what kind of adventures they get up to, and who he’d love to have on the show (hint: it’s who everyone would love to have on their show).
Where did it all start out?
Paul: “Kris and I started 28 Plays Later in March, 2015, with him recording from his little studio in Seattle, and me from mine in Melbourne. I’m fairly certain we were both wearing pants at the time – I mean, I know I was. We really wanted to make a weekly comedy gaming podcast that we’d actually listen to ourselves.”
How did you first meet Kris?
Paul: “Kris was in town hosting Symphony of Legends, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s massive video game music concert, with Wil Wheaton and Scott Kurtz! I was sent along to interview him for TheVine, and we instantly clicked. So much so that when the Queensland Symphony Orchestra threw the same gig later that year and only Kris could make it, he volunteered me to host opposite him. As a result, I swore whatever the podcasting equivalent of a wookie life debt is to him, and here we are!”
What was it about each other that drew you to work together?
Paul: “Kris’ work is prolific, and he’s been helming the cult webcomics Chainsawsuit and Broodhollow for years – but his sense of humor is fantastically dry. He’s very hard to impress, which means sometimes I have to bust my balls to get a reaction out of him. Which means if I get a laugh from Kris, I earned it. On the other hand, he claims to like the fact that I have a very high energy and tend to get enthused at the slightest provocation. So in many ways, I guess we’re opposites. Damn. Does that mean the past three years have been a mistake?”
Was podcasting the obvious outlet?
Paul: “Absolutely! My background is in radio, so after almost five years at triple J as resident nerd I was dying to cover games in more depth than usual. And there’s something really fantastic about sitting in front of a microphone and pouring your guts out. Plus, given the geographic restrictions, Kris and I couldn’t very well get in front of a camera every week! Podcasting is a hugely fertile format.”
How difficult is it for you guys to coordinate across time zones and countries?
Paul: “I’m not gonna lie: it sucks sometimes. It takes a lot of discipline to keep to a schedule. It also means that sometimes one of us has been up all night dealing with a crying baby, and the other is on a balcony with a gin in hand and the sun in their face, which makes for a fascinating on-air dynamic.”
[pictured – Kris and Paul]
How often do you actually get to sit next to each other?
Paul: “Typically twice a year! Kris flies down every year for PAX Australia, where we do lots of live shows together, and I return the favour by heading to Seattle for PAX West! Sometimes we jet around for other preview events together, too. Oh, and I have a straw effigy of Kris in my office with some of his hair and teeth lashed to it, but it’s not the same, really.”
What games do you have the most hours on?
Paul: “Borderlands 2, Spelunky, Payday 2, and Lego Marvel Superheroes, for some reason! But I’m also getting up there with PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds.”
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done together as a part of your adventures?
Paul: “We were flown to the Hollywood premiere of the Warcraft movie, and got placed right up against the barricade in the media pen on the red carpet, and somehow ended up riffing with Jamie Lee Curtis, dressed as a troll, and her son. Then the actual Leroy Jenkins came along and the three of them screamed “LEROY JENKINS”, and Jamie Lee Curtis almost took my eye out with a spike on her pauldron. Weird night.”
Who’s been your all-time favourite guest?
Paul: “Easily Harrison Ford! We had him on as part of his press tour for The Force Awakens, and he was bloody lovely. It probably helped that we didn’t talk games at all and instead focused on how much he loves planes, but yeah, he was a delight. Or Judy Blume. She was astoundingly good value.”
Who’s someone you’re yet to have on that you’d love to chat with?
Paul: “It’s a dead heat between Mark Hammill, who I need to grill about his work on the Arkham games, and literally any of the cast from Stranger Things! I’m convinced they’d all be up for an actual game of D&D. Can you imagine that as a regular segment on 28 Plays Later?”