An interview with Pete Dominick. Talker on Sirius, hosting
a political show on IndieTalk (Pete's Big Mouth) and show on Raw Dog (Comedy
by Request). Pete is a touring comedian and the warm-up for The Colbert
Pete Dominick is a talker on Sirius Satellite Radio. His
program – ‘Pete’s Big Mouth’ is featured on the
IndieTalk channel. The channel’s motto: Political talk for people
who hate political talk is a fitting description for the show.
Pete often talks about wanting his show to counter the bravado of his
Talk Radio peers “ They’re really trying to get people to
follow…Ed Schultz is a liberal talker and he wants you to call yourself
an “EdHead”, with Rush Limbaugh you’re a “dittohead…
I think that’s dangerous. It insinuates that what that person is
saying is right and is always right”.
Political Talk Radio has traditionally been a combative format. The talker
issues their talking points, bashes the other side, and concedes failings
strategically. When a caller interjects with an opposing viewpoint, they
know they’re in for a fight and at the mercy of the talker’s
On Pete’s show it’s quite the opposite. When Pete is flippant
or says something his audience find ignorant, he will host a stream of
calls or read emails disabusing him of that contention. He isn’t
afraid to reconsider his stance after some back and forth but concedes
at times “he’s been too apologetic” and admits “it
isn’t good for radio”.
There is an inviting and casual air to the show, this follows whether
you’re a first time listener or disagree with Pete’s views.
This is partly a function of the “independent” nature of the
show and Pete’s persona. As the show is driven by audience input
and Pete’s curiosity it’s hard to predetermine the direction
the show will take on any given day or even hour to hour. The show has
spent time discussing matters as varied as ‘McCain’s war record’,
‘racism in America’ to ‘audience celebrity encounters’
– spurred from an encounter with Geraldo on the morning drive into
work. Pete often becomes animated during the topic of religion (he is
an outspoken agnostic) and America’s two-party system (he believes
in run-off voting).
Pete’s personality coupled with the freedom of the Sirius format
gives the show a schoolyard vibe - a regular caller greets the host with
“Hey Pete, How the f*ck are ya? It’s a cliché in the
world of Talk Radio but there is a sense that he values every listener.
He welcomes callers like they’re old friends, remembering names
from previous conversations by phone and email. Pete wants his audience
to own the show “I’m not interested in leading people. I’m
interested in having a salon discussion everyday… I just love listening
to people’s opinions.”. He feeds off the enthusiasm and intellectual
appetite of his audience, Pete often jokes on air about the overzealousness
of listeners sending 9 emails with links a day “why not just wait
a little bit then send all 9 links together”.
Pete’s Big Mouth is built on the on the interactions of audience.
Pete moves the conversation with his inquisitiveness, using a skillset
he describes as being his “personality, wit and off-the-cuff improvisational
abilities. It has been these qualities that have attracted Sirius (he
also hosts Comedy by Request on the Raw Dog Comedy Channel) and impressed
Jon Stewart who invited him to be the warm-up for the Daily Show, eventually
moving to the Colbert Report.
The way Pete describes the dynamic of the audience warm-up is reminiscent
of the formula of his radio show “I’m going on a journey with
audience… we’re leading each other and I’m making jokes
in the moment. It’s hard to follow that with scripted anything”
Pete’s Big Mouth isn’t your conventional Talk program. It’s
best described as a show where people discuss the memes they’ve
just heard on the radio rather than the show disseminating it. Instead
of people regurgitating talking points, they’re deliberating over
them. Pete and his show is encapsulated in 3 simple words “I like
Pete on his radio peers
All I’m finding, a lot of times no mater who they are. They’re
really trying to get people to follow their – Ed Schultz is a liberal
talker and he wants you to call yourself an “EdHead”, with
Rush Limbaugh you’re a “dittohead” and Mike Church who’s
on Sirius is the “Red, White & Dude Nation”, Andrew Wilkow
is the “Wilkow Majority”. I don’t want people to people
to identify with Pete’s Big Mouth or with Pete Dominick. I don’t
need that kind of following because I think that’s dangerous. It
insinuates that what that person is saying is right and is always right
and that’s not what I want to do. I’m not interested in leading
people. I’m interested in having a salon discussion everyday, selfishly
because I’m entertained by it. I love talking about the subject
matter we talk about, I can’t wait to get into those conversations
privately with family and friends and I love doing it on the air. I just
love listening to people’s opinions. I think if anyone’s gonna
follow me I hope they’re following the idea of individual thought.
Pete on his comedy
I’m not a political comedian. It’s one part of a larger act,
I do current events, politics, social issues as one part of my act. I
also talk about my personal life, my insecurities, my relationships and
I also do an observational chuck usually as well.
I’ve never been able to pin myself down or paint myself as one
type of comedian. To some extent that’s been to my disadvantage.
I have always been a host and an emcee, I’ve gotten more work as
a host and emcee on TV and in radio and certainly mainly in comedy clubs.
As well as doing the audience warm-up. My skill set I think is my personality,
my wit, my off-the-cuff improvisational abilities.
Pete on warming up for Colbert
I like conversation. I like to go onstage (when I’m
doing stand up) if it would be okay with everybody I would just talk to
them for 30 minutes and get laughs that way and I do do that with warm-up
every night on the Colbert Report. I do that about 20, 30 minutes. Often
during my jokes the laughs come from the situation.
Pete on being "in the moment"
Without the risk of not sounding humble, there have been
times where my warm-up has been harder for Stephen to follow, its not
that in anyway I’m more talented than Stephen Colbert. Sometimes
the warm-up is so in the moment, I’m going on a journey with audience
for half an hour/ 45 minutes, we’re leading each other and I’m
making jokes in the moment. It’s hard to follow that with scripted
Some comedy clubs show video clips of America’s funniest home videos
where some 3 year old kid hits dad in the nuts with a wiffleball. What’s
funnier than that? Bill Hicks, Georgle Carlin or Richard Pryor can’t