Hosts Andrew Norton and Rob Norman, Courtesy of CBC
Personal Best is a humorous podcast that celebrates small ambitions, half-wins and the quiet satisfaction of getting less bad at things. Each week we help ordinary people work through the little things they’d never bring to a life coach — like kicking a snooze button addiction or getting less awkward around cashiers. Let us be your self-help sidekicks!
Hosts Andrew Norton and Rob Norman help ordinary people through the little things that they'd never bring to a life coach - like kicking a snooze button addiction or talking to cashiers - but that still deserve celebrating. This humorous podcast applauds half-wins and the quiet satisfaction of getting less bad at everyday things. Topics tackled in Season 2 include being able to dance in public and learning to be passionate about cooking, and the new season launches with Chandler, a woman in her 30s, who wants to get her first credit card.
Andrew Norton is a radio producer and filmmaker. He’s made stories on everything from baseball mascots to legendary skateboarding tricks for outlets like CBC’s Wiretap, NPR, WBEZ and podcasts like 99% Invisible. And to answer the first question you’ll have when you meet him
— he’s 6’6”.
Rob Norman is the author of Improvising Now, as well as an instructor and director at the Second City Toronto. In addition to producing The Backline weekly podcast, Rob is a Canadian Screen Award winner for his performance on City TV’s Sunnyside. And yes, Rob is tall but he doesn’t make a big deal about it.
Interview by Blaine Schlechter & CBC PR -With Andrew Norton and Rob Norman
Congrats on the upcoming season 2 of your Podcast – Personal Best. Tell us about the show?
Andrew – We like to say it’s a self-improvement show for people who don’t like self-improvement. Each episode is like a mini-documentary and people come to us with something that they want to improve about themselves and it’s usually something petty…something weird that you normally wouldn’t want to go to a “life coach” for. Over the course of the episode we try our best to find experts; to develop activities to try and get them better at whatever it is they want to improve on.
It’s a great concept…where did the concept for the show come from?
Rob – I was doing a bunch of storytelling events around town and Andrew saw a video and said ‘ooh…I want to make a little documentary about it’ so we filmed that, in about 2015 or something. Years and years later, CBC was looking for a comedy podcast and I thought it sounded like a great opportunity. I only knew one person who makes podcasts and that was Andrew. So I called Andrew and we met at a coffee shop…later I would realize neither of us drink coffee…and I threw an idea (out there) and Andrew did not like the idea, but together we kind of came up with something that kind of meshed together to become Personal Best. So a real mess of an origin story I’d say.
Andrew – Yah, there wasn’t like an ‘aha’ moment of a light bulb flickering on or something like that romantic.
So you guys knew each other before the show came out, the show didn’t really bring you guys together?
Rob – We were pretty much strangers when we were making this video and I was just getting into podcasting and Andrew had mentioned that he had done some so I was asking him a lot of questions about the craft, but yah…our relationship has all been through the show.
Andrew – We were like Facebook buddies for a while where he was the one person where “Oh…Rob has an improv show coming up…this guys on my Facebook…I forgot about that” and then a few years later he reached out. So we knew each other a little bit I guess you could say.
Rob – And for the record, Andrew has never come to one of my improv shows!
Andrew – Well Rob does a really good job of not glamorizing Improv as well!
Do you guys have any personal favorite moments from Season 1?
Andrew – The cow birth episode I would say, especially in hindsight. We were such ‘threading the needle’ or ‘out on a wire on that one’; I can’t believe we pulled it off. So much had to come together, where not only were we helping this lady who wanted to birth a cow, we were building her skills up, getting her ready to do that…(but) we were actually trying to find a cow that was going to give birth and trying to make that happen within that time frame. Even listening back to that, it was ‘whoa…that worked out really well’. That was an interesting one; a fun one for sure.
Is there anything that someone could bring to you that would shock you? Or anything that you’re surprised hasn’t been featured on your show yet?
Rob – Anything that would shock us would definitely go into the show immediately! (laughs) For the most part, people are asking for help with are things like; ‘can you help me learn how to drive…I want to be comfortable at parties’. You want to find a story that is weird enough that it makes people kind of tune in to listen, but then have to be universal enough by the end of it to listen to it all the way through, because if it’s just a weird story about a weird person, then I think people kind of check out, they can’t really find their footing in that story. So stories like birthing a cow…it’s kind of a wild story but I think underneath that is a story about ‘I’ve lived my life this way, but I’ve always felt like this person’ and there’s never been an opportunity to act on that. That story has a very universal theme that we all relate to, even if you’ve never wanted to birth a cow.
That’s kind of the core basis of the show I guess isn’t it?
Andrew – Yah…birthing cows, yes. (laughs)
Season two will begin on May 14 and the teaser is out there now, but what can fans expect from the second season?
Andrew – I think we really pushed what we do with the format to the point of almost breaking it (laughs). Some episodes we were ‘is this going to be an abject failure’? We always do a good job of bringing it back from the brink but I think Rob and I really want to make sure we weren’t just going through the same motions and just plugging and playing from the first season.
Rob – I would also say this season has been a little bit more personal and intimate than maybe we were expecting. There’s no long, drawn out monologues from Andrew or I, but when you’re picking stories and the kind of activities your thinking about, that really tells a story and I think your gonna see a lot more of Andrew and I in this season. Whether you like it or not!
The show is funny and original and I look forward to Season 2. When and where can fans go to catch up on Season 1 or tune into Season 2?
Rob – Everywhere (laughs)!
Andrew – Wherever (people) find their favorite podcasts…Spotify, Google, Apple; things like that.
And obviously the social media channels they can get updates and CBC.ca I believe has a link to all the shows as well.
Andrew – yes…CBC.ca/PersonalBest is the site. And then our Twitter handle is @personalbestCBC.
Thanks guys…I appreciate the time.
Courtesy of CBC