Steve Gadlin plays Sasha, the show’s outspoken Russian host and international comedy sensation. The Noob, played by Paul Luikart, is Sasha’s mute, slide whistle-toting sidekick. The characters appear on Gadlin and Luikart’s comedic game show Don’t Spit the Water, a live performance overseen by Blewt! Productions that can be seen each week at Chicago’s Playground Theater. In October 2005, Gadlin discovered a program that would allow non-profit organizations to produce live, half-hour call-in shows for free. So they created Talkin’ Funny, a weekly call-in talk show that promotes their game show and their theater, while giving a voice to Chicago’s improv comedy community. The half-hour show airs live on CAN-TV’s Channel 21 when in season, but now non-Chicagoans can watch too.

The show relies almost entirely on viewers calling in to play interactive games with the hosts and to learn about comedy goings-on in Chicago. Sasha takes callers, creates new games, and interviews guests, while The Noob gives reactions in the form of facial expressions and slide whistles. He often gives weight to Sasha’s punchlines or covers for them in their absence with his deadpan looks. Each week, in addition to accepting live (often repeat) callers, the boys read aloud viewer e-mails, discuss the ins and outs of improv comedy, and give a voice to many of the comedy makers in the Chicago area. The previous night’s episode is posted the next day, with each one building off the last by taking suggestions from the previous show’s call-in. For example, they did a few shows in which they traveled into the future, donning Rip Van Winkle beards. In a more recent show, a viewer requested they visit the past next time, which they did in the following season. Occasionally, new hosts will replace them in their absence. In those cases, Paul often appears as himself in lieu of Sasha, with either Steve or an unidentifiable man named “Carl” in The Noob’s place. It’s a nice shift from their usual routine, which can be exhausting after several seasons.

I’m a fan of the short films created by Sasha and The Noob that appear on the show’s off-seasons. There’s a Basketball Tribute, in which the hosts shake their bottoms to the beat, and a vaudeville-style sketch in which they teach viewers how to tie the Windsor knot. These shorts are even more bizarre and kitschy than the show itself.

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