NEW YORK CITY — The literature loving duo behind the hit podcast “Bad on Paper” is coming to the Gramercy Theatre in New York on Nov. 1. Co-hosts Grace Atwood and Becca Freeman started the podcast with a straightforward vision: they both loved to read, and they wanted to share that passion with their listeners. It launched in March 2018 and what started as a simple side venture soon exploded.
“Grace caught me right around New Year’s with the idea, and I had that ‘new year, new me’ feeling where I wanted to say yes to more things. So, I agreed right away, but honestly was thinking of it more as a side hustle than a potential business venture when I agreed. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the traction the podcast has gained,” Freeman said.
Every month, Atwood and Freeman pick a book to discuss for their book club. Atwood described how they diligently track new releases and read between six to eight books a month to find potential topics. Though they have differing tastes, they aim to find books that they both enjoy – and ones that will spark great discussions for the podcast.
“There have been times where we’ve both loved a book but haven’t really had a lot to say about it. Just because it’s a great book doesn’t necessarily make it a great book club pick,” said Atwood.
Between these monthly episodes, “Bad on Paper” focuses on women’s lifestyle discussions. These episodes range from serious advice — such as being an activist or asking for a raise — to more lighthearted topics like self-care and beauty routines. Atwood and Freeman focus on issues relevant to their daily lives or answer questions posed by their listeners, who primarily are between the ages of 20 and 40.
During these episodes, the two of them often invite guests on to the show for in-depth interviews and fun conversations. When they spoke with Graham Norton, they talked about his career and his recent novel “A Keeper,” but also asked about his friendship with Dolly Parton and his thoughts on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” In some cases, such as with Norton, the interviewee will reach out to them directly to schedule a conversation. Other times, Atwood and Freeman make connections at events or simply send a message to invite someone to speak on their podcast. Atwood shared that it was always exciting when an interview manages to come together.
When not hosting a guest, the two of them often speak from their personal experience for an episode. Being on tour sparked an episode regarding their travel routines. And when they have questions they’re unsure about, they make sure to seek out answers. This was what inspired the creation of a recent “Bad on Politics” segment, where they interview guests to break down aspects such as voting in the primary or running through the candidates about to speak at a debate.
“The idea came about pretty organically. I consider myself a pretty smart person in other aspects of my life, but I find politics totally overwhelming,” said Freeman. “There’s so much news and, in this presidential election, there are so many candidates. I knew if I was feeling overwhelmed that people in our audience probably were too. So, we set out to create a primer for our audience (and ourselves!) to help navigate what is happening.”
“Bad on Politics” exemplifies their attitude towards the podcast — what started as a small idea continued to grow. Their first live show happened by chance: a comedy club in New York invited them to perform. Atwood and Freeman decided to go, thinking it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and performed to a sold-out crowd. As they gained more popularity, the invitations kept coming in and the rest, as they say, is history.
To catch Freeman and Atwood in action live at Gramercy Theatre, located at 127 East 23rd St., visit LiveNation.com. Tickets start $20. Doors open at 7 p.m. Their tour will wrap on Nov. 6 in Dallas Texas.