Hidden away in an overheated painter's shed in the garden of a Grey Lynn flat, an empire is growing. Comedian Tim Batt is a dominant force in the making - though not in politics or global affairs, but with podcasts.
Three years ago, comedians Batt and Guy Montgomery appeared together on TVNZ's now-defunct youth channel U. Montgomery was a co-host of U Late, with Batt recurring as a pathetic but upbeat character who reviewed public bathrooms, much to Montgomery's faux annoyance.
"It was fun and we just had a good back and forward, so when the channel got shut down we decided we wanted to do a small project that wouldn't be too much effort," Batt recalls.
"We thought of the idea of doing a movie review show where the movie never changes. We floated the idea of doing Grown Ups and then Guy suggested we do the sequel cause neither of us had seen the first one."
Thus, The Worst Idea of All Time was born. It's been running for three years now - moving from Adam Sandler and friends on to Sex and the City 2 and Zac Efron's We Are Your Friends - the pair watching each movie 52 weeks in a row, a fairly unenjoyable experience for them both.
"Grown Ups 2 was frustrating for its stupidity. [SATC2] was incredibly depressing and aggravating mainly due to its length and its lack of any kind of cohesive morals and storytelling. [WAYF], it's a very one-note, monotone hot mess of f**kboys in LA behaving badly and treating women atrociously and never being called on it," Batt surmises, sounding exasperated at the mere thought of these movies.
The work may be tiresome, but after three years, Batt has been able to use the popularity of
to build an entire network of podcasts on the back of it.
Enlisting a plethora of comedians including Rose Matafeo, Nic Sampson and Joseph Moore, Batt created the Little Empire Network to host a variety of shows on.
"I'm surrounded by incredibly smart, funny friends of mine," Batt says of the reasons behind growing the brand. "My mission was to bring us all together to work on fun projects together. There's so much talent here. They needed the vehicle to get their voices out there."
Using a makeshift studio in his backyard, there are now four ongoing series that make up Batt's empire, and for the first time, they will all be presented live this weekend at the Fringe Festival.
"Podcasting as a format can be really intimate, because you're usually listening by yourself, so you really get to know people as friends of yours," Batt says. "So I think there will be something quite neat about being able to match that with a real life closeness."
Though producing four regular series seems like a big task, Batt has no plans to slow down, with a number of "secret" plans in the works, including moving into non-fiction territory.
However, Worst Idea will come to an end - much to Batt's relief - after WAYF. Though that depends on Sarah Jessica Parker's plans.
"There are two conditions that could nullify [the podcast's end]. I have said on the record that if they release Grown Ups 3 we'd have to do it, and the same conditions for [SATC], and it looks like might happen, which I'm very concerned about. It's a real worry for me," he says without even a tinge of irony.