In less than 48 hours, Ben Oddo and Morey Hill will take the stage at Comedy Club dressed in their on-stage uniforms of khakis and blazers to launch the sixth season of “The Ben & Morey Show.” With quippy banter, quick-witted interviews and a live audience, Ben and Morey are rewriting weeknight entertainment. The late-night talk show is performed in front of a live audience on Thursday nights at Third Coast Comedy Club on Clinton Street near Marathon Music Works. “We’ve done 62 shows, and we have interviewed over 100 people,” Ben says. The past lineup of guests includes high-profile locals such as StyleBlueprint’s own Liza Graves & Elizabeth Fox as well as Libby Callaway, Santa’s Pub owner Elmer Irwin, an Abraham Lincoln impersonator, sex therapist Dr. David Yarian, the Jugg Sisters of NashTrash Tours and former mayors Bill Purcell and Karl Dean. “The same thing happens every season. We have a master list with 20% big name Nashvillians and 80% random,” Ben shares. “We always find more people who would make for a compelling sit-down interview. We uncover and discover interesting folks: wrestlers, a Rabbi, a hypnotist, an auctioneer … ”
“I wasn’t living in Nashville at the time, but Morey was telling me about the cool things going on — and we like to interview people. So, we fused those ideas together,” says Ben, of the time back in 2015 when he joined Morey in Nashville, and, together, they started the Thursday night live comedy show, along with friend and producer Davis Hunt. This season will not be all that different from their first season in 2015. “It will be the same time, the same day, but a different venue,” Morey says of their move from Centennial Performing Arts Studios to Third Coast Comedy Club. “We will have 10 shows between April 12 and the end of June (the full schedule is on the website). The new venue is slightly bigger and has a full bar.”
You’ll recognize the red couch and mustard yellow chair from the old set, but you might be surprised to see a new rug. “You can tease the new rug if you want,” Morey graciously offers. “There is also the potential for a plant on stage, but we aren’t sure what type of plant yet.” When asked to describe the new setting, trapezoid is the first word that comes to mind for both Ben and Morey. “People are going to know my right nose like they have never known before,” Ben says. In addition to a larger, trapezoid-shaped stage, with more profile views, the capacity has increased by about 25 people. For Ben and Morey, the move is symbiotic. Third Coast Comedy Club is a relatively new venture, as is “The Ben & Morey Show.” And both are growing.
With 62 shows under their belt, the duo, whose friendship dates back to their college days at Washington & Lee, no longer has pre-show nerves. “The stakes are so low,” Ben says laughing. “It’s all rooted in this ‘who cares?’ attitude. The show is full of spontaneity, and fun usually ensues.” The hectic hours before the show don’t leave much time for nerves. As the Dr. Souls Wholly Funk Band (the house band) goes through sound check, guests are buying tickets, and Ben and Morey are prepping their guests for what’s to come. After dodging balls thrown by a professional hurler, conversing with an in-character Abe Lincoln impersonator and calming the pre-show nerves of their guests (for example), Ben and Morey take the stage. Similar to the late-night talk shows you watch on television, “The Ben & Morey Show” starts with an opening scene complete with banter of both the trivial and timely variety. Then, the interviews. The interviews are organic, and typically it doesn’t take much for the guests to open up. “It is generally surprising how many people say yes,” Morey shares. “And people who say yes to something called ‘The Ben & Morey Show’ are typically interesting and open.” The conversations are interesting, eye-opening, often educational and, of course, funny. And while the shows are structured the same, no two are alike.
In looking back on their accomplishments — and missteps — Morey can only recall one regret: “The first show was great. All of our friends and family were there. Everyone was supportive. The second show was nerve-racking. We thought this could be the end. The show was great, but I made one comment about people doing stupid things on the internet to get attention and no one laughed. I locked eyes with an audience member, and she just started shaking her head.” When asked to repeat what that comment was, Morey politely declined, and thankfully for him, the show isn’t televised.
There is no rest for the funny. In addition to the premiere of Season 6, Ben and Morey will be hosting The Ben & Morey Tour, under NashTrash umbrella, which includes the Jugg Sisters Original Tour and Pip’s Music City Confidential tours. “We met The Jugg Sisters about a year ago when they were guests on our show. There was a bond,” Morey shares. “The tour will be different. It will be more of a what Nashvillians are doing and where they are eating than when the Parthenon was built — it was built in 1987.” The tours will be held on the pink bus every Saturday at 2 p.m. until death — or the foreseeable future, at least. Ben and Morey hosted the Addy Awards in February. The pair will also released video footage of an interview with the Nashville Predators (do yourself a favor and watch their past video with the Titans here).”There is so much going on — the new venue and new rug, but also things behind the scenes,” Ben tells us.
Over cheeseburgers (you will come to learn Morey eats a lot of cheeseburgers), Ben and Morey answered a few questions. So before you go to see them onstage on Thursday night, get to know them a bit better with our quick Q&A:
What’s the last lie you told?
Morey: Last week, I went to Sonic and had a double cheeseburger and tater tots. That night, I went back for dinner and got the same thing. I told Ben the truth, but I was talking to one of my girlfriend’s friends and did not tell her the truth.
Ben: Recently, I was looking for flights to Chicago. I didn’t like the prices, so I started looking on Skiplagged.com, where you can book a ticket with a connection, and get off at the connection. I didn’t buy the ticket, but I almost lied to the U.S. economy.
What’d you have for breakfast today?
B: I had steel cut oats with blueberries and banana. I am trying to get more whole grain in my diet.
M: No breakfast. This is the first I have eaten today. I eat Jimmy John’s for lunch almost every day. I tallied it up and have had more than 300 sandwiches since 2015.
Who is your favorite historical figure?
M: Ben and I are really into James K. Polk. He is a Tennessee guy, the 11th President. He had bad health in his youth, and at 16, a doctor told him he had to go to Philadelphia for surgery. So he hitched a wagon, and on the way stopped in Kentucky. A doctor told him, “You are going to die tomorrow, but if I operate on you now, you might live.” He couldn’t read or write at age 17 and went on to graduate from UNC. He died after leaving office. He worked himself to death.
B: I like Abe Lincoln during his melancholy years.
What is your favorite trait about yourself? And what is your favorite trait about your co-host?
M: I like being slightly taller than average. I like that Ben is shorter. And a good deal shorter, too.
B: My ability to talk to octogenarians. The thing I like about Morey, he has good instincts.
What is the trait in yourself you most deplore? What trait do you most deplore in your co-host?
B: I could be a better listener, which doesn’t bode well for a guy who interviews people. I have a hard time keeping my mouth closed and ears open. I deplore Morey’s toes, and when he uses them as pinchers.
M: My financial habits aren’t too good. I’d like to financially plan better. Ben’s sleeping habits are hard to deal with. He will nap after work and stay up late.
B: If it is 9 a.m., an atomic bomb could go off and I would still be sleeping. I am not very good with punctuality.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
What is your current state of mind?
B: Cautiously optimistic
M: On the verge of complete relaxation
What is your greatest fear?
B: Either what happens after death, or kidney stones
M: Kidney stones are scary. And I have a weird phobia of basement crickets.
Three things you can’t live without?
M: A piano, a few seasons of “The West Wing” and cheeseburgers
B: A hand blender for soups, Spotify and sandwiches
Catch “The Ben & Morey Show” on Thursday, April 12 at 8 p.m. at Third Coast Comedy Club. Tickets are $12.
All images courtesy of Warner Tidwell.
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