The following is an interview with J. Keith van Straaten regarding his comedy quiz show podcast, Go Fact Yourself. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with van Straaten about the inspiration behind the podcast, his creative process in working with each guest and their respective fandoms, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on last year’s launch of your comedy quiz show podcast, Go Fact Yourself! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the format of the show?
J. Keith van Straaten: Thanks! It’s been a lot of work and a lot of fun.
Go Fact Yourself takes the smartest people we know and makes them look dumb … and then smart again! It’s a live comedy game show recorded as a podcast for the Maximum Fun network. With co-host Helen Hong, we bring together celebrities and quiz them on topics they claim to be experts in. Then, we bring on an actual expert in one of those topics to give us the answers and let the guests “geek out.”
BD: As the co-creator and co-writer of Go Fact Yourself, what inspired you to bring the show to life, and what guides you on the specific areas of trivia for each episode?
J. Keith van Straaten: My co-creator and co-writer Jim Newman and I had worked on a bunch of projects in the past and both love panel shows that combine celebrities and “civilians.” When I talked with Jesse Thorn of Maximum Fun, he mentioned he was open to adding a panel quiz show to his network, so Jim and I set to brainstorming ideas. Jim loved the idea of asking people “what’s the difference” between two things, so we have that as our first quiz segment. And I love talking with people about what they love, so that forms the main part of the show.
The specific areas are completely guided by our celebrity guests — we don’t know the topics we’ll ask them about until they tell us the 3-5 topics they know a lot about. Then Jim and I pick one of them that we think would make for a fun quiz and a guest expert we can book. For our “What’s the Difference” round, we just think of stuff and happily take suggestions from listeners. And for our final “Fast Facts” round, I take notes in my phone throughout the week when I hear of some interesting trivia.
BD: You have quite a talented pool of celebrity guests on the podcast. What can you tell us about your experience in working with each new guest and researching their fandoms?
J. Keith van Straaten: I have learned a lot about topics I never thought I’d even Google! One of my favorite parts of producing the show is learning what the guests — even people I’ve known for years — are into. It’s also interesting how some of the lists we get from guests are long and come quickly and others need suggestions to come up with even one.
Some topics require very little research, if I already know a lot about it — like baseball or Saturday Night Live. Others require hours of work and help from our guest experts, like when Jonathan Mangum chose Analog Keyboards as his topic — it took me three guesses to even determine what that meant.
BD: What do you hope that viewers will take away from Go Fact Yourself?
J. Keith van Straaten: The main thing is I hope that listeners are entertained, but I love hearing that people learn something, too. I also hope to show that knowing things is fun and that it’s cool to love what you love and be enthusiastic about it.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you would care to share with our readers?
J. Keith van Straaten: I’m a content producer on the syndicated game show, Funny You Should Ask. If you hear Jon Lovitz make a joke about a trivia question, there’s a chance I worked on it!
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Go Fact Yourself?
J. Keith van Straaten: Please listen! Find us wherever you get podcasts or listen at gofactyourpod.com.
And if you’ll be in the Los Angeles area, please come to our live tapings — they’re fun and they’re free!
Finally, please give us a good rating and review on iTunes. It helps people find the show and we read 5-star reviews on the air.