The Breakfast Club

Wake Up In Provincetown Celebrating 100 Episodes

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By Steve Desroches

It was a rainy summer day in July and Bob Keary and Harrison Fish were well into their third episode of Wake Up In Provincetown, the popular Web-based morning talk show, doing the news roundup. With a couple of shows under their belt they were settling into a groove with their easy rapport and quick wit. Previous guests on the show included Qya Cristal, Jeffrey Roberson a.k.a. Varla Jean Merman, and Peter Donnelly, as well as Murray Bartlett, the Australian actor from the deliciously dark and satirical HBO series The White Lotus. But this episode was particularly thrilling, and a bit daunting, as the guests included the first openly gay Pennsylvanian legislator and now candidate for lieutenant governor Brian Sims and celebrity event planner and designer Bryan Rafanelli. However, there was a last-minute addition when the two co-hosts saw Democratic political operative and commentator Donna Brazile at the Red Inn and asked her to be on the show. When she said, “Yes,” they couldn’t believe it. And now 30 minutes into the show the two-time chair of the Democratic National Committee hadn’t shown up yet and they assumed she changed her mind or the inclement weather had kept her away. Just then, the political powerhouse walked in and then sat down with Keary and Fish for a candid conversation.

“That’s when we knew we might be on to something,” says Fish. “That was a big deal.”

Indeed it was. Since debuting on July 3, 2020, Wake Up In Provincetown has become a significant part of Provincetown’s robust independent media, bringing news, interviews, opinion and editorial, as well as occasionally some benign gossip to the Cape Tip and beyond from their live broadcasts in the taproom at the Provincetown Brewing Company every Friday morning. And in the coming weeks, the show will celebrate its 100th episode as it continues to grow, interviewing community members and visitors alike who are movers and shakers in entertainment, the arts, business, and politics, as well as just those people with interesting stories to share, produced in partnership with Live from Provincetown, the Internet-based media platform developed by Jonathan Hawkins, who also helps produce the show along with Marc Guerrette and Andrew Haig.

Bob Keary and Harrison Fish Photo: Greg Salvatori

The journey to becoming television hosts for Keary and Fish, who have also worked together for many years at the Red Inn, started out of another popular venture the two started at the Brewing Company, the weekly Brew’s Clues Pub Trivia every Monday. Usually a live event, the pandemic forced them to shift to a virtual format. While they had many who participated remotely, Fish noticed that there were always about 100 viewers who preferred to just watch, signifying that the duo had an audience for other projects. Keary had long had an idea for a Provincetown-based late night talk show, but work schedules were better suited for a morning program. When asked if either of them are morning people, both Keary and Fish shake their heads with deadpan faces and say definitively, “No.” But you’d never know, as each episode is as fresh and fun as it is informative and entertaining, complemented by Keary’s background in journalism and Fish’s in theater and performance. Plus there’s their friendship and camaraderie.

Photo: Trevor Pittinger

“We didn’t,” says Keary when asked if they were aware of their good-natured chemistry. “One day at the Red Inn a total stranger said to us, ‘I love your schtick.’ We were like, ‘What schtick?’ This is just us working.’”

In the beginning, Wake Up In Provincetown was a salvo to help combat the loneliness and separation caused by the pandemic, particularly for those frequent visitors who were not able to travel. The two receive messages all the time from viewers near and far, but when they had Dr. Paolo Martini on, they realized the scope and scale of their reach. The Chief Scientific Officer of Rare Diseases, Hematology and External R & D at Moderna Inc., (as well as the co-owner of the Crown and Anchor) came on the show to answer questions about Covid-19 and the vaccine. It was perhaps the biggest response ever received for a single episode, as they heard from viewers from as far away as Paris thanking them for having Dr. Martini on to share accurate information about the pandemic and the vaccine.

As pandemic restrictions lifted, Wake Up In Provincetown went on the road for two different specials,  one in Palm Springs, California, and the other in Washington, D.C., to cover the 2020 Presidential election. They’ve done holiday specials and remote segments interviewing everyone from beekeepers to porn stars, local politicians Sarah Peake and Julian Cyr, and last spring all the candidates in the Select Board race. Fish notes that he’s most enjoyed seeing new and young performers on the show go on to larger success on the stage, like Qya Cristal and João Santos, who are debuting solo shows this summer at the Crown and Anchor. And they are both excited about an upcoming episode featuring artist Sal Del Deo, a veritable “force of nature” and Provincetown legend. As they rattle off ideas in the works, it’s clear they will sail past 100 episodes with ease on into the future.

Photo: Trevor Pittinger

“We just keeping going week to week,” says Fish. “We’ll keep doing it as long as we can.”

Wake Up In Provincetown airs live every Friday at 9 a.m. on Facebook and past episodes are archived on the show’s YouTube channel.