In the annals of “Howard Stern” history, Shuli Egar played an important role as the longtime liaison to the “Wack Pack,” the odd assortment of misfits who regularly call in to the SiriusXM show to provide offbeat banter of questionable entertainment value. So when news arrived in January that the comedian, who also provided impressions and bits, was leaving the show after 15 years, Shuli fans were shook.
To hear Egar tell it, the decision was in part prompted by the pandemic along with a move from New York to Alabama. But mostly it was a desire to break out on his own, which he’s doing with the podcast “The Shuli Show.”
“There really wasn’t the most thought-out plan, I just knew I wanted to do it,” Egar tells Variety. “My goal was to get people to stick around after episode one. And it’s happened. More and more people are reaching out to me every day telling me how much they love it, how they’re bingeing it, and the support has been fantastic. For me, it’s all the proof that I needed.”
Egar, the son of Israeli parents and himself a father, is relishing in the imperfections of his life and of the podcast medium, which is still growing. “It’s not a polished, perfect show, and I like that,” he says. “I like that organic feel — that energy of anything can happen and you’re going to have to roll with it.”
And Stern fans will find “The Shuli Show” a welcome addition to their listening lineup, especially when Stern himself is on vacation, as he was for two weeks in March. “He’s earned the right to take off as much time as he wants,” Egar defends. “Before I was a 15-year employee, I was listening for over a decade and a huge fan. It’s a part of me.”
Read on for more of Variety‘s conversation with Shuli Egar.
What was it about the podcasting medium that attracted you?
I know from being a listener of podcasts how big they’ve become. I also know as a comic the success that my fellow comedians have had with podcasts. When I started doing stand-up, we used to have to put fliers on cars to get people to come to shows. And now in 2021, everybody’s got a podcast and you find the one that you like by the comic that you like and then you support that comic. Odds are if they’re listening to more than one episode, they’re going to come see you when you come to town. And there’s comedians that are successfully selling out clubs that have never had a TV appearance on “The Tonight Show” or “Conan.” It’s a day and age where you don’t necessarily need those things.
Eight episodes in, do you have a sense of the metrics, or how big the audience is?
You know, as nerdy as I look, I really don’t know this stuff. But from what people who are familiar with this are telling me that the numbers are really strong. I know people who have been podcasting for years who have yet to make an appearance on the charts, and my show has. Not to brag but it was the number one show at one point in South Korea. So, you know, I got another fallback place I can move to after Alabama. It’s been strong in Canada, Australia and Hong Kong. I’m so thrilled with that because it’s something that I felt deep down inside I could do.
So you think that there’s an appetite for comedy on podcasts or a community for comedy consumers on the platform?
Everybody has a favorite podcast that they listen to, whether it’s crime or a comedy or whatever it may be. Everybody. And there’s a podcast for everything. I think the market hasn’t even hit its peak yet.
You mentioned on an early episode not wanting to lean on the “Stern Show.” Have you found yourself battling that?
You can say the same for my stand-up, I do an hour and there’s maybe 10 minutes of it that is Stern-related. The humor is geared around the humor I grew up listening to, which was Howard. My last 15 years, the beat that I worked was the Wack Pack — I was that conduit between them and the show. But there was never an off-time for that. There was never a clocking out from that role. So for me, even now in a few episodes, I’ll get phone calls from them while I’m recording… Tan Mom calls me, so what am I going to do, not take that call? Stick to the script and keep going? No, I’m definitely going to take that call because who knows what the hell we’re going to get out of that. If you’re a fan of the “Stern Show,” I’m sure the humor will remind you of the “Stern Show.” And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. And I don’t know how to change that. Like I said, it’s a part of who I am.
Is there something that you miss about the “Stern Show?”
I mean, I miss being in that studio and making Howard, Robin [Quivers] and Fred [Norris]. I miss the camaraderie of being up there in that building.
You hadn’t been in the SiriusXM studios for the better part of a year, right?
Absolutely. And it kind of it kind of sped up the process for me mentally to be like, I think it’s time. I was hitting this stride there where I was getting in the studio a lot and contributing a lot across the board, not just Wack Pack stuff, but voices, puppets, all kinds of stuff. And I really felt this momentum building. And then the pandemic came and everything came to a halt.
What do you miss about New York?
I miss the comedy clubs hanging out with my fellow comics. I miss doing stuff with the kids out there because that is where my wife and I met. That is where we had our family. So, you know, there’s definitely some sentimental stuff. But, you know, the quiet out here, the nature, the not hearing horns, choppers, screaming…. Here people are waving hello, like, you’re not flipping me off? I don’t miss the pace and the nonstop of it. And that was the big thing that I learned during the pandemic is not going into the city five days a week. it’s been a blast. I look every day for a negative because that’s just the Jew in me — we’ve got to find the negative. And I really have yet to find it. The waving at people upset me when I first got out here. I didn’t like that shit. But now I’m doing it more. I initiate the wave. I get to see my kids playing and happy. They’ve got a yard that’s bigger than 60 square feet. They’ve got their own rooms. My wife’s got a kitchen. I have a basement studio. I couldn’t be happier with where we’re at, and thank God for my wife because, without her, I don’t know where the hell I’d be.
You had your parents on the pod and that was when you told them you’d left the “Stern Show.” Admittedly, that was good radio — or audio.
You know, you don’t really get unscripted moments like that, and that’s what I love about the way we’re doing this show. I have some guest interviews that are pre-recorded, but I’m not going into that with the list of questions. It’s something that I’m feeling at the moment. And it’s the same with my folks. I knew I was going to call them and talk to them and whatever came out of that was going to come out of that. And I think going into it with that mentality, I’m always going to come away with something good.