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Father and son Bob and Nate Odenkirk roll out Audible comedy, ‘Summer in Argyle,’ at SXSW

Omar L. Gallaga
Special to the American-Statesman

Some comedy writers debuting a well-promoted, corporate-backed labor of love wouldn’t be too thrilled to have their parents share the spotlight at an event like South by Southwest.

Nate Odenkirk, the son of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” actor Bob Odenkirk, not only shared the stage with his dad at a featured panel about “Summer in Argyle,” but his mother, Naomi, was nearby too in her capacity as producer of the new series. For his part, Nate seemed to be enjoying it.

The family affair, which Bob Odenkirk co-wrote and stars in as the narrator, has a large presence at this year’s SXSW with a well-attended Friday afternoon panel at the J.W. Marriott downtown, mobile hot-dog vending carts themed to the show, and an activation on Rainey Street featuring live music and fancy hot dog cuisine (more on that in a bit).

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Bob Odenkirk and his son, Nate Odenkirk, speak Friday at Banger’s during an event promoting their new Audible show, "Summer in Argyle." The Odenkirks created the hot dog murder comedy set in the fictional town of Argyle, Ohio.

Panel moderator Zola Mashariki, head of Audible Studios, the company bankrolling the retro-styled scripted comedy, said at the panel that, “The comedy space is our specialty.” That might come as a surprise to anyone who doesn’t work at Audible. The company launched the comedy series, set in a small town and focused around a murder-by-lawn-dart that takes place during a hot dog hunt, on Thursday. (Lots of hot dogs in this project.)

“Summer in Argyle” began as a comedy script written by Nate Odenkirk that he intended to put together as a podcast with friends out of his college dorm. When he read the script, Bob Odenkirk joked that he wondered, “Where is all the swearing? This can’t be my son.”

But overall, he thought, “This is already good. There’s already great bits in here. The tone mattered to me a lot.” Bob Odenkirk likened it to old radio shows that he tried to expose his sons to via SiriusXM such as “Firesign Theater,” “The Goon Show” and “Bob and Ray.”

The senior Odenkirk decided he wanted to help his son beef up and expand the script and many Bob Odenkirk-adjacent comedy friends ended up getting cast on the show including David Cross, Jill Talley, Tom Kenny, Tim Robinson and comedy podcast ringer Paul F. Thompkins.

Bob Odenkirk also made one big suggestion to his son: “Add a murder to it, which is an interesting note to get from an editor,” Nate Odenkirk said.

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The result, with huge doses of silliness in a small town full of eccentric characters, is what Bob Odenkirk describes as Lake Wobegon, but much, much funnier.

The partnership with Audible allowed for the project to expand into a fully sound-designed production with original songs and mock commercials and direction from “The Birthday Boys” comic Tim Kalpakis. “Nobody’s done anything like this that I know of for decades,” Bob Odenkirk said.

Bob focused on the audio project, but did get to mention his work on the final season of the “Breaking Bad” prequel series, “Better Call Saul,” which will conclude after its upcoming sixth season, split into two parts, on AMC. He also teased a new movie with David Cross called “Guru Nation.” Bob said that he enjoyed taking on such a silly project after being immersed in dramatic acting, especially during the pandemic. “I loved it,” he said. Both said they hope to make more seasons of the Audible show.

Actor Bob Odenkirk and his son Nate sing and scat Friday as the Austin jazz combo The Vintage performs at Banger's during SXSW. The event was to promote the Odenkirks' new Audible show, "Summer in Argyle."

At the “Summer in Argyle” activation earlier in the day, where a giant cutout of Bob Odenkirk’s character stands outside, the father and son took questions and presided over a three-course hot-dog feast that included hot dog calamari (literally fried hot dogs sculpted like calamari), a seasoned hot dog over potatoes, and a hot dog dessert with ice cream and a banana on a hot-dog bun. It was much better than it sounds.

The most amusing moment in the panel may have been when Mashariki asked Nate, “What was it like to get notes from mom and dad?”

“…They’re a delight,” Nate Odenkirk said after being whisper-berated and quietly cursed at by Bob Odenkirk to say only nice things.

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