Seemingly every comedian has a podcast these days, and there is no shortage of podcasting comedians who’ve taken their program to the next level and devised an app as a content delivery system, where you can stream and/or download old episodes of the show. Adam Carolla, WTF with Marc Maron, Kevin Smith’s SModcast, and more have all got their material available in app form now. But Chelsea Peretti—stand-up comic/Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-star/former Parks & Recreation writer/Call Chelsea podcast host—has done them one better. In her app, you can make pictures of your friends being mauled by bears.
Peretti’s app is an innovator in more ways than just the bears. Opening it launches an alternate version of the iPhone iOS, with—at the moment—just three apps: "Soundboard," which features sound effects and excerpts from the podcast; "Chelstagram," an Instagram-like photo app where the filters include things like the self-explanatory "Mauled By A Bear," or "Psycho," which frames, say, adorable photos of your dog with bloody knives (see below); and "Call Chelsea," which calls up Peretti’s voicemail, so users can leave a message for the podcast.
"I always have this fantasy—I wish I could go and meet with Instagram, meet with Facebook, meet with Scramble, whoever it is," Peretti says as she explains why she went ambitious with her app, instead of just using it as a stash for the podcast’s back-catalog. "And basically now, it’s just addictive to me that you can upgrade things so easily. I made my app on the higher end of pricing [$1.99], because I put out my podcast for free, and I like the idea that you get this kind of luxury app that keeps getting upgraded."
Fans of the podcast asked Peretti for audio clips from the podcast, and she initially attempted to build an app that just featured those. "People wanted them, and then iTunes didn’t approve it, because they said it wasn’t enough that was being offered," she explains. "So then we added the filters, and those wound up being—for me, anyway, right now—what’s most exciting about it."
Peretti foresees a future for the app that includes additional apps-within-the-app, as well. "Chels-emojis are in the works," she says, excited. "I use emojis heavily in life, and I think a lot of people do. There are a number that are frustratingly absent—you know how there’s kind of a generic white man and a generic white woman? I just want to put a generic black man and a generic black woman. I want to put some similar things to what’s in the filters—like a bear, and a wolf—and I’ve noticed things that are missing from the vegetables, such as a radish."
Peretti is impassioned when she speaks of emoji—which seems only appropriate, when you think about it—but more than anything, she seems to enjoy the control and responsiveness that comes with running her own app. That’s something that a person working in Hollywood doesn’t necessarily encounter very often.
"What I love about stuff like this is that there’s plenty of interplay between the public and the technology," she says. "You get to implement what people want so quickly, and I love that. It’s so different from entertainment, basically. You know what I mean? People can tweet me and go, ‘Why don’t you have a bear filter?’ and it’s like—you send an email to the guy who’s been doing graphic design, and he creates it, and then we send it to the guy who made the app, and he just throws it up, and then I can tweet, ‘Okay, it’s up!’ It’s so satisfying."