It’s more or less a rite of passage for aspiring comics to launch their own podcasts these days, so it’s getting damn near impossible to come up with a premise that hasn’t been done a hundred times already (comedians, talking with other comedians? How candid!) But NYC stand-up Jake Flores, host of the recently debuted Mr. Cleo, has done exactly that.
In each episode of Mr. Cleo, named after that iconic 90s infomercial psychic, Miss Cleo, Flores and a few of his friends get drunk (natch) and share their number on social media, asking followers to call in for psychic advice. That’s right, Mr. Cleo is “the world’s foremost drunk scumbag psychic hotline comedy podcast,” in its own words.
Flores, who appeared on the first round of Comedy Central’s Roast Battle and who writes the Observer’s satirical TV column, “A Millennial Reviews,” explains that his inspiration came from an unlikely place.
“I started Mr. Cleo for a few different reasons,” Flores tells The Laugh Button. “I read tarot cards over the phone as a job, briefly, and became kind of interested in how they work. I never believed in the supernatural aspect of them, but I sort of went from believing it was a complete scam to realizing the beauty of it was in the fiction – like when you realize pro wrestling is fake, but that’s what makes it awesome.”
But, believe it or not, even astrology is well-worn territory in the comedy podcast world.
“I didn’t want to do a serious, New Age-y, DMT wackadoo ‘eyeball on top of a pyramid’ podcast, though, because that’s frankly been done already by people that know way more about this stuff than me,” Flores concedes. So what makes Mr. Cleo different? “The aim is comedy, while the method is badly executed ‘magick’ (with an obnoxious k). I believe that jokes come from the subconscious, so there’s a lot overlapping here.” The show’s spooky soundtrack also makes it more fun, thanks to comic / musician Danny Felts.
And setting it up like a psychic hotline, Flores hopes, will draw listeners who might not otherwise be the show-going type.
“I thought that the interactive nature of it would be something original, and would utilize years of weird connections I’ve made with strangers over the internet,” he says. ”Most of us in comedy right now are just sitting around with these nets full of internet friends and assuming they’re going to come to small gigs we do or something. There’s a reason these people follow you on the internet! It’s a venue unto itself.”
The first few episodes of Mr. Cleo are up on iTunes (and wherever else you get your podcasts), with new episodes out each week.