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JJ Barnes The Table Read

Written by JJ Barnes

www.jjbarnes.co.uk

I interviewed comedians Will and Steve about their podcast, War And Peace In Just 7 Years, the creative process behind it, and what they hope to accomplish with podcasting.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

We’re Will and Steve, co-hosts of comedy book podcast War and Peace in Just 7 Years. Our mission is very simple: to summarise every chapter of the greatest novel of all time or die trying. If you’ve never read War and Peace, pretended to have read it, or you actually have read it but didn’t know what was going on, then WAPIN7 is the comedy book podcast for you.

Will and Steve from War And Peace In Just 7 Years Podcast, Podcaster Interview on The Table Read
Will and Steve from War And Peace In Just 7 Years Podcast

How and why did you start podcasting?

Steve – Will and I have always made stuff together, we met making films and since then have written and performed sketch and stand up comedy and now podcasting. So we love making stuff together, but also podcasting is still very exciting. There’s still so much space for trying out new things, and it’s the perfect place for surprising and unusual ideas like War and Peace in Just 7 Years.

Will – Our first creative project together was a short film about three young women finding a dead body in their lounge. Our second was another short film about two confused men waiting for a pizza whilst simultaneously being convinced they were about to be murdered. I’ve spoiled the ending there a bit…

We’ve always loved comedy and being creative. Podcasting was inevitable as you can make people laugh without having to go outside.

What is your current podcast called, and how did you come up with the name?

Steve – Our latest show is called War and Peace in Just 7 Years, it’s a ‘comedy book’ show where each week we try to decode a chunk of the Tolstoy mega-classic War and Peace. We’d never read a word of Tolstoy before starting this project, and I can say now that it’s very good, very long and surprisingly funny in places – having Will and the listeners there to figure it all out has been invaluable.

Will – It’s called War and Peace in Just 7 Years or WAPIN7 for short – If we summarise one chapter of War and Peace a week it will take just seven years to complete. That is a completely normal amount of time by the way and we absolutely don’t regret starting such an ill advised and long project. We don’t regret it, not at all.

What is War And Peace In Just 7 Years about?

Steve – By modern standards War and Peace is a terrifying book, there are 500 characters, around a 1000 pages, 15 mini books within one big book, it weighs as much as a small dog. But it truly is a brilliant book, the characters are hilarious and interesting, and the story is wild. WAPIN7 is about two semi-literate comedians discovering that and making sense of it so you don’t have to.

Will – It’s about: bear riding, turtle burgers, mayonnaise, hands, marriage, cannons, immortal horses, letters, parties and chats. Oh and War and also some Peace (hopefully… we haven’t got that far).

Wondershare EdrawMind

What platforms can we find War And Peace In Just 7 Years on?

Steve – We think we might be on every single platform ever made, so that includes Spotify, Apple Podcasts/iTunes, you can even ask Alexa to play it. Just search for ‘WAPIN7’ in whatever app you use or look at the Where to Listen list on our website.

Will and Steve from War And Peace In Just 7 Years Podcast, Podcaster Interview on The Table Read
War And Peace In Just 7 Years

Will –  I’m going to go even further than Steve… War and Peace in Just 7 Years is available wherever you get your podcasts. We’re so confident of this we hereby challenge you to find an app we’re not on! If you succeed in this quest, send us an email, and we’ll hold a small party in your honour.

Do you host War And Peace In Just 7 Years alone, or have guest hosts/partners?

Steve – It’s just me and Will at the moment, but we have a fantastic community of listeners who correct our many misinterpretations and confusions and send in incredible things, so it feels like there’s more of us. In the future we’d love to work out how to involve guests in the show, watch this space!

Will – One time a mystical stranger wandered into the studio whilst we were recording, all he said was ‘Sorry’ but he looked like he had a lot more to say, does that count?

Do you edit War And Peace In Just 7 Years or have someone who does it for you?

Will – Editing is such an integral part of our show and also an unstoppable evil monster. When you sit in a room and make unscripted jokes for an hour about half of what you say is gibberish. For me, editing is about treating the audience with respect. Giving them a polished show that still has that chaotic element to it whilst not feeling overproduced and sanitised. It’s like wearing a nice suit and doing your hair vs wearing a bin bag and being covered in mud. There’s a time and a place for both!

Steve – We both have some technical and broadcast experience so making sure the show sounds professional is really important to us, even though it’s just us two. At the moment we edit the shows each week ourselves, but right now we’re asking Patrons to support us so we can bring in an extra editor.

Do you script War And Peace In Just 7 Years, or just chat as you go?

Steve – It’s a bit of both, we want to have spontaneity but also make sure the episodes aren’t complete nonsense, so whoever is summarising that week will usually have a look at the bit we’ll be tackling. Other than that though it’s just us chatting, but within the structure of the show format.

Will – It’s so fun sitting down to record when Steve is going to summarise a chapter to me as I have genuinely no idea what’s going to happen. The show is really built around that surprise and enjoyment. For us, that’s where the comedy of WAPIN7 comes from. Who doesn’t like having a story read to them and a big old gossip?!

How has War And Peace In Just 7 Years changed or developed since you began?

Steve – We spent a few months prototyping and developing the format before we put anything out so the show has stayed pretty consistent. A new thing we’ve been trying are ‘special’ episodes in between each mini War and Peace book. For the specials so far we’ve had a go at summarising other classics like Pride and Prejudice and Lord of the Flies.

Will and Steve from War And Peace In Just 7 Years Podcast, Podcaster Interview on The Table Read
War And Peace In Just 7 Years

Will – The biggest change is feeling a show grow; in-jokes morph and evolve and this absurd world continues to grow around us. For me, what changed everything was receiving our first piece of listener artwork. It was so amazing to get this email out of the blue from a fan in America. It made me think, “oh, real people are actually listening to this and enjoying it!” That creates such a buzz in the recording sessions. Also, the more you record the better you get. We’re also really good at saying “hello” to the listeners now. Took a while that one…

What are your biggest challenges with War And Peace In Just 7 Years?

Steve – Our biggest challenge is understanding what is going on in War and Peace each week! Other than that though as we’re a small team it can be stressful when something occasionally goes wrong. As we grow the podcast we want to focus more on developing and making content and a bit less on the day to day production.

Will – the biggest challenge is finding time to do all of the ‘extra’ things that get your show attention. I love making silly pictures for our Instagram but also know we should be doing way more with it. Ideally we’d have a small army that would press buttons on social media and travel the country singing songs about us. Unfortunately all we have is my dog and he’s useless.

What are your favourite podcasts to listen to?

Will – I’m obsessed with Our Fake History. I think it’s because I hated history lessons as a kid and now realise I know absolutely nothing about the past. I also used to listen to far too many current affairs podcasts which definitely made me a lot sadder and anxious. I think that certainly fueled my desire to make an irreverent podcast that could help listeners escape from reality.

Steve – I listen to a fair bit of Hidden Brain, which is a social & science focussed show and covers some interesting areas. I’m also a fan of The Listening Project, which records often quite intimate and moving conversations between friends and relatives and lets you listen to them.

How and where do you promote War And Peace In Just 7 Years?

Steve – We’ve dabbled with a bit of advertising, but really for us the best thing has been word of mouth. People are very passionate about War and Peace and when they discover a show like ours with such a weird take on a book they love, they want to tell people about it. Of course it’s not easy growing a new podcast with limited resources, it can be frustrating sometimes, but you’ve got to have patience and focus on making the show as good as it can be.

What’s something you never expected about podcasting? What have you learned that surprised you?

Will and Steve from War And Peace In Just 7 Years Podcast, Podcaster Interview on The Table Read
War And Peace In Just 7 Years

Will – The most obvious thing that’s surprised me is how genuinely funny War and Peace is. People are right that it’s a hugely intimidating and complex book, but if you don’t read it you’ll never know exactly what happens if you tie a policeman to a bear and push them into a canal, or how vitally important mayonnaise was in the early 19th century.

Do you earn money from podcasting, or is it a hobby?

Steve – It might be hard to believe, but a War and Peace themed comedy podcast isn’t a big money spinner (yet at least). We’ve got some brilliant Patrons that support the show, as that grows we plan to make more WAPIN7 content, and also other shows.

Writers Work - Get Paid to Write

What is the first piece of advice you would give to anyone inspired to start podcasting?

Steve – Make a few pilot episodes first, there’s so much to learn and finesse on the production side, but also you need space to try out your format and make sure it’s good to listen to. It’ll also help you understand what kind of commitment is involved in making your show – and if it’s more than you expect, how often you can put out an episode without making any sacrifices.

Will – Think of your favourite podcast and something it will almost certainly have is a clear format and structure. Even chaotic sounding shows will have some structure to them. Another thing is the importance of sound; no one wants to listen to a collection of bees shouting inside a large tin. It’s a turn off for listeners and it’s so easy to avoid. There’s so many amazing free tutorials on how to record, mix & edit and master your show, and there are other tools like Auphonic which are a low effort way to improve the quality.

And, finally, are you proud of what you’re accomplishing with your podcast? Is it worth the effort?

Will – I’m so proud of the show. Our audience is wonderful and the insane amounts of effort we’ve put in have absolutely been worth it.

Steve – 100%. I’m so amazed by our listeners and the things they’ve sent into the show – opening your inbox to discover a drawing of a monkey wearing a wig is an experience everyone should have. Of course I’m also just proud of us for reading so much of War and Peace, I wasn’t even sure Will could read to be honest.

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

Search ‘WAPIN7’ wherever you get your podcasts, we’re on:

Apple Podcasts

Spotify

 + Many more platforms

Patreon: https://patreon.com/wapin7

Instagram: @wapin7podcast

Website: https://wapin7.com

Email: tolstoy@wapin7.com

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