“What do you call an alligator in a vest?” asks actress Olivia Wilde.
This is how every episode of The Dinner Party Download begins—with an icebreaker or a joke told by one of the guests of the episode. Hosted by Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newnam, The Dinner Party Download follows the basic structure of an actual dinner party in each hour-long episode. The podcast uses minimal music and background chatter when introducing segments.
After the introductory icebreaker, the hosts and guests engage in small talk. They discuss subjects such as events in the news that may have been overshadowed by more popular topics. As the small talk fades, Gagliano and Newnam introduce the cocktails, where they share a story that occurred the same week in history. Then, they contact a bartender from the city the story took place in to seek inspiration for a drink.
After drinks have been served, the guests mingle while the food is prepared. At this part of the podcast, Gagliano and Newnam invite a musician to create their own dinner party playlist. This list must include three songs they would play at their own dinner party, as well as an original composition. When the needle on the turntable fades to warm fuzz, the guest of honour enters the scene, introduced by the two hosts. Following this event is the main course. Here, the group discusses trends and other subjects in the current food scene.
The Dinner Party Download is heavily interview-based, which adds a certain realism that mimics a dinner party. The interviews are insightful but still conversational, so it doesn’t feel too one-sided or formal. The segments are witty, creative, and usually follow a narrative format. This lends an especially entertaining element to the cocktail segment, “A History Lesson with Booze®”—trademark and everything. The hosts never miss a beat with their sharp wit, whether they’re asking rock legend Alice Cooper to answer questions of etiquette, or chatting with journalist Anderson Cooper about a book he wrote with his mother.
As a commuter, I download a couple of episodes the night before a school day so I can have something entertaining, informative, and fun to listen to on the bus. If I somehow end up at a dinner party at any point in the week, I’ll have an arsenal of interesting talking points ready.