The good news ― a new live talk show is coming to C-U. It’s called Two Beers with Dylan Heath and will debut on Thursday, December 22nd at the Iron Post at 9:00 p.m. The guests for the first show are Sanford Hess of the Art Theater, comedian Andrew Voris, and musician Ryan Groff.
The bad news ― unlike on Oprah in the past, the host, Dylan Heath, won’t be giving away cars to audience members. “One day we might give away kazoos, though, or something like that,” show co-producer Jeremiah Stanley told me when I spoke with him and Heath recently. “Also, we won’t be making any money, so it will be completely unlike Oprah in that way,” he added.
While Two Beers with Dylan Heath may not lead to either Heath or Stanley quitting their regular jobs ― both work at Strawberry Fields in Urbana, and Heath works at the Iron Post as well ― a talk and variety show is something Heath has been considering for some time. “I came up with this whole thing probably a year ago and sat on it for a long time,” Heath explained. “Then I told Jeremiah about it as a way to actually get it started. If I have an idea, I probably won’t do anything about it until I tell someone about it. After that, it came together very quickly.”
Heath and Stanley are the driving force behind the show, but they are getting plenty of help from friends. The plan is to have the show once a month and probably always at the Iron Post. Stanley said, “Paul, at the Iron Post, gave us a lot of freedom starting off. He pretty much let us pick a date that was open and said, ‘Go for it.’”
So far, the show’s set is somewhat minimal. “The way I envision it is pretty bare bones,” Heath said.
However, Stanley added that he eventually would like to see a set that’s kind of a combination of Cheers and Nightline: “Traditionally, talk shows have a desk, but Dylan’s desk would have a bar setup ― two people sitting at the bar. Kind of a moveable bar.”
“We’re hoping to do a podcast as well,” Heath mentioned.
Currently, the duo is trying to decide on a theme song. “We’re just looking for something for me to run on stage with. Something with saxophones and poppy. Something upbeat,” Heath explained.
From the show’s website: Two Beers with Dylan Heath is a monthly, variety show. Comedy, music, interviews; come drink with me as we find the interesting people of our town.
So how are Heath and Stanley defining interesting? Heath said, “There are a lot of artistic people in this community; I like the idea of them having a place to talk.” He added that, down the line, the show might have hard news types of guests: “It would be awesome to get political figures and people like that, and maybe get them a little drunk and say things they shouldn’t say. But right now, I think it’s going to be primarily culture.”
Though the eventual goal is to feature less well-known people, the first show will feature guests with familiar faces. Stanley explained:
We do want to interview people who are off the beaten path a little bit. But with the first show, we’re trying to do something of local interest and value, and also to get people to come to it, so we wanted to get someone you’ve heard of, at least. It’s really good timing with the Art Theater stuff because the co-op is developing and happening. Andrew Voris is a comedian we’re both familiar with. Ryan Groff, who plays in Elsinore, is also a name people recognize.
If we could get a few shows in and establish something, then maybe people who wanted to be on the show could contact us. We have an email address that’s hardly been used so far; maybe eventually the inbox will be full.
Will there be a cover charge for shows? “We debated about that,” Stanley said, “but I think the first show we’ll do without a cover. We’ve thought about, in the future maybe, having a cover charge as a fundraiser ― stuff like that, depending on what guests are on that night.”
The name of the show comes from the amount of alcohol that Heath plans to consume with his guests. Heath explained, “It’s kind of hokey, but the interview takes the amount of time that it takes both of us to drink two beers.”
The idea is that the interviews will take place in that festive zone somewhere between sober and sloshed. But wait, if there are three guests on the first show, does that mean Heath will be drinking six beers total? Heath said, “It’s definitely two beers per guest. At least two for me total, more depending on how well I’m doing and how well people can understand me.”
Who buys all the beer? “I don’t know; probably me,” said Heath.
Long term plans for the show are very much open-ended. It seems that things will progress largely based on how Heath, Stanley, and ― indeed ― the community decide to roll. Heath and Stanley appear to take the show pretty seriously ― there’s already been a lot of groundwork ― but themselves, not so much.
Stanley summed things up this way: “We’re not really breaking any new ground. We’re combining the parts that we really like in this community and bringing them all together in one little format.
“I don’t think anyone has anything to lose by coming out. It’s a weekday night, so if it’s really terrible then you still have your weekend and Christmas to look forward to. So it’s low risk. That’s what we’re aiming for.”