FYIG recently had the chance to chat with radio host Allison Dore about her venture into creating a new female-centric comedy label called Howl & Roar Records!
You started out in your career in acting before your older brother encouraged you to try stand-up. What stood out about your experience to make you want to do it for a living?
I was 100% terrified to try it, and another comedian had to literally hold my hand and walk me to the stage. But people laughed. It went pretty well for a first attempt. Had I completely bombed, I probably never would have gone back again. Making people laugh is euphoric, like a drug, and you just want to get that feeling back. So, I chased that feeling for 17 years.
While performing stand-up, you happened to meet fellow comedian Ward Anderson and The Ward and Al Show was born. What was it like to work with Ward and how did that show change your career?
Ward and I met at a time when we were both extremely frustrated with our careers and decided to start a podcast. We actually barely knew each other! We had a great back and forth with each other and thought it would play well as a show. Had I not teamed up with Ward, I wouldn’t have the career I have now. It was his idea to reach out to SiriusXM, and that was another stroke of luck for us – they were starting a new talk channel. Doing that show with him literally change everything.
How do you think your career would have changed had Sirius XM not offered you the time slot on Canada Talks (Ch. 167)?
I honestly don’t know where I would be right now. I was struggling so much at that time. Working other jobs to make ends meet, doing as much stand up as possible, doing the podcast…I barely slept, I never saw friends, I was always broke. To be honest I am getting anxiety right now thinking about it. Let’s just say I have no end of gratitude that Joe Thistel (my boss at SiriusXM) believed in us and hired me!
You weren’t done with Sirius XM as you have a new show called The Breakdown on (Ch. 167) and BroadCast on Canada Laughs (Ch. 168). How do those two shows differ from each other and what can audiences expect from them if they haven’t listened in before?
The Breakdown is a daily entertainment-focused talk show. Me and a regular rotation of cohosts talk about pop culture, current events, and entertainment headlines, as well as interviewing a really diverse group of guests. It airs from 2-5pm ET. Allison Dore’s BroadCast is a weekly, one hour show celebrating women in comedy. I’m like a DJ, but instead of songs, I’m playing jokes! I mostly play contemporary comedians, but every now and then I like to throw in some trailblazers: Moms Mabley, Phyllis Diller, etc. It airs Tuesday nights at 8pmET.
Do you have any funny studio stories to share with us?
Drew Kahn, who is a music programmer at The Verge, is excellent at hiding behind doors and banners in the studios and scaring the crap out of people. It makes me laugh every time! We also once had an actor accidentally kick a piece of machinery, and it knocked the whole channel off the air! He was mortified, but it was one of those one in a million shots, so we just had to appreciate it!
In addition to your work with Sirius XM, you also have your own podcast called Digging In where you interview a different guest each episode in which they share their lives and views. This is a bit of a different atmosphere than your other shows. Where did the idea come from to start this podcast come from and are these types of interviews something you’re looking to do more of?
I really fell in love with interviewing, and I wanted to get better at it. The only way I could think of was to do more of it! Plus, I had started being very inspired by self-improvement and positive thinking, and people who work on a success mindset. I am very drawn to stories of people who survive, who overcome obstacles, and who turn failures in successes. I wanted to have more of those conversations. I love the long-form, one on one format, and I love to have more opportunities to do it. I have some AMAZING episodes coming this fall!
You’ve formed the female-centric comedy record label Howl and Roar Records. What prompted you to create this label and what makes it stand out from the competition?
Programming BroadCast made me realize that women aren’t recording as much as men. Obviously, there are more men than women in comedy, but even proportionally speaking, it’s not happening. And I personally know several women who should have had 2 or 3 albums by now! So, for about a year I was just grumpy and frustrated by it; and then I realized I was now in a unique position to make it very easy for women to record. I have knowledge on both sides of the table. Originally, I was going to do it on a really low-key, small-scale, and just quietly help comics put out content. But as it snowballed, I realized if I really wanted to help, I needed to do it BIG and LOUD. Get attention! It was also originally going to be female exclusive, but then I realized that there are some men who face similar challenges and I didn’t want to leave them out. So, my main focus and about 80% of the albums I put out will be with female artists. It’s kind of the inverse of most labels, that’s what makes it stand out.
What difficulties and challenges did you face in creating the label?
Honestly, most of them were the nitty-gritty business issues that I was unfamiliar with: do I incorporate or register as a sole-proprietorship? How do I hire a lawyer? Those kinds of things I have no experience with! So, it was a lot of reaching out and asking questions. That was honestly the hardest part because I didn’t know where to start, and I felt dumb asking questions that I was afraid were basic. That and getting loans! It’s hard asking for money for a first venture, but I was lucky to find private lenders who believe in me and the project.
Where did the name Howl and Roar Records come from?
No joke – the thesaurus. I was trying to come up with a name and was having no luck. So, I was looking up different comedy-based words and synonyms just trying to get inspired. Howl and roar are both a way of describing laughter, but they also describe a frustrated type of speech, when you are trying to make people really hear you. I loved that double meaning because my focus is on comedians who sometimes feel they are overlooked.
The launch party for Howl and Roar is September 19 at 8PM ET at Bad Dog Theatre and there will be an album taping show taking place. How excited are you for the official launch and what can you tell us about the comedians that will be appearing?
So excited! It is a world class line up: Michelle Shaughnessy is going to host the show. She is hilarious and makes me laugh on stage and off and is one of the best headliners in this country. I’m incredibly lucky to have her. Aisha Brown is the feature act, and I always tell people when they see her, they are going to laugh their heads off, and want her to be their best friend or their girlfriend. She just draws you in. And of course, Kate Davis! It is truly unacceptable that this is her first album because she has been one of the best in the biz for so long! In addition to being an amazing comedian, she is also a coveted speaker, an author, and co-creator/star of the web series ‘Best Before’. She is so talented, and I’m thrilled we are working together!
You give back to a number of causes that are close to your heart including Free Them, Dress for Success, and the No Hair Selfie campaign. Talk about what each of these causes mean to you and why people should support them.
I am keenly aware of how lucky I am, and I just want to help others in whatever small way I can.
Free Them is a wonderful organization focused on ending human trafficking. It is a bigger problem than most people realize, and so part of what they do is education. They also help in very tangible ways. On September 22 I’m participating in the Freedom Walk, which is raising funds for housing for sex trafficking victims ages 16-24, to get back on their feet and reintegrate into society.
Dress for Success helps women achieve economic independence through development tools, support systems, and professional attire. We all know the expression “Dress for the job you want.” Dress for Success helps women who can’t afford to, do just that.
No Hair Selfie is close to my heart, I had so much fun! All I had to do to raise money for cancer research at the Princess Margaret Hospital was shave my head! It was a great experience for me and raised lots of money. We have all been touched by cancer in some way, so it was an easy decision to join up for this event.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs/comedians?
Just do it. You’re going to be scared. People are going to try and talk you out of it. There are going to be a million reasons why you shouldn’t. DO IT ANYWAY. Life is short, and at the end of the day, you always feel better when you take a risk than when you play it safe. You can’t win if you don’t get in the game. And by the way – most people who are telling you why you shouldn’t do it, are actually just afraid to chase their own dreams.
Let the readers know where to find you online.
All over the place!
I also have a podcast people can check out: www.diggingin.libsyn.com