Film history podcaster and all-round pop culture buff Pete Mann lifts the lid on one of Beams’ longest running and most loved micro shows, Breakin' Character.
Where did the concept for Breakin’ Character come from and why did it feel like a good fit for the Beams short-form format?
I was raised in front of screens growing up in the 90s - the days of MTV, Nickelodeon, cable Super Nintendo and N64. I knew more about pop culture than sports and would always relate to people through what was popular at the time. Couple that with the love of jeopardy-style factoids and it felt like a natural fit to put those two together on an app like Beams. It was important for me to have a concept that I could dive into which felt infinite and one which I wouldn't get bored with.
Which were your favourite episodes to create and why?
The ones where I found out something really nuts when doing my research. I had no idea that axe protests actually helped to create Scooby-Doo!
My favourite fun episode is Pinky and the Brain for the sheer fact that it’s basically roasting so many people behind the scenes. I felt like I was rediscovering this cartoon all over again. I finally got all the jokes.
My favourite of all time is the President Goloborodko (Servant of the People) episode. It felt like the first time I made an episode that wasn’t just pop stuff. It had more weight to it and it gave me the courage to speak up a little bit more.
Aside from having more time, why did you choose to split your episodes into two parts?
Everyone gets what they want with the two-part format. Typically, part one is the summary of the story and key elements of the character, whilst part two is the psychoanalysis or the thematic breakdown with behind the scenes facts. It’s always cool to see which part gets more attention. It’s typically not the way you think it would go.
Your delivery is always full of charisma and energy. Any tips for sounding confident and keeping listeners engaged using only your voice?
Before you record, drink a big glass of water with a tiny bit of lemon juice. You’ll feel the difference in your throat when you talk.
My voice on Breakin’ Character is more 'broadcast-y'. It started out as an impersonation; I was going for the guy on Ancient Aliens and I couldn’t hit it.
Finally, if you want to sound confident and energetic, make sure you love what you’re talking about completely and that will shine through.
I love interacting with people on Beams. I haven’t met one mean or unsupportive person on the app yet. I honestly wish there were more places like this.
Do you script each episode? What does your planning/writing process look like?
Sometimes I do a riff in the moment but 95 per cent of what you are hearing is pre-written. I do a lot of writing. My days start at 5am. I get coffee and start writing. Mostly it’s coffee, research and writing lines until the kids wake up. I batch record when I can or just record straight into my iPad - no headphones.
Who do you enjoy listening to on Beams?
I really enjoy Spoilers with Chad the Bird - it’s just zinger after zinger. The puppet has talent! I’m a big fan of Daily Nature News too. He has the most incredible voice. I want to grow up to sound like him. Also, how smart is this guy? His love for our planet is infectious yet soothing - everything I want from a nature show.