A year after graduating from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington with a bachelor’s in psychology in 1999, and working briefly as crisis counselor at a residential treatment facility, Dan Cummins started doing standup in September of 2000 and was touring regularly by the end of 2001. In 2004, he was invited to the Just for Laughs Montreal Comedy Festival. After his introduction to the entertainment industry, over the next few years, Dan continued touring and was given a record deal with Warner Records, appeared on the Late, Late Show on CBS, the Tonight Show on NBC, and had his own half-hour special on Comedy Central. An hour long Comedy Central special followed in 2010 combined with a divorce and a move to Los Angeles.
The special didn’t translate to ticket sales, and Dan struggled both personally and professionally for the next several years, balancing taking gigs basically anywhere that would book him with flying between LA and Spokane, Washington every month to see his two kids.
Afraid his standup career was winding down to a close, despite multiple other TV appearances including a return to the Tonight Show and becoming a regular cast member on TruTV’s popular World’s Dumbest clip
show, he took multiple jobs as a consultant producer on reality shows like Duck Dynasty to supplement his minimal tour earnings.
Meanwhile, Lynze was grinding hard to make a career in Film and TV production, picking up the occasional print job to make ends meet. When the free lance work she was used would dry up, Lynze would nanny for family friends. Through various connections and years of paying dues, her reputation as a hard working, organized and energetic team player put her on the production map. Lynze landed some dream jobs working with heralded stylists, costume designers, and celebrities. She thought she had finally made it: she was madly in love with Dan, she was working on a popular TV show, and she had a few bucks in the bank. Lynze worked on shows such as Supergirl and Agents of Shield, assisted on national ad campaigns for Mattel and even toured with musician Rhianna. But then all of her success came to a bizarre and grinding halt when she agreed to let go of her ten year career to move to Coeur D Alene, ID so that Dan and her could share custody of his children from his first marriage, 50/50.
Lynze and Dan saved every last penny they could from her production gigs an his odd two year gig hosting a morning show for the Playboy Channel. Dan and Lynze, who’d met at a Nickelodeon channel shoot in 2012, then left LA and moved to Couer d’Alene in 2015, excited to spend much more time with their son, Kyler, and daughter, Monroe.
Dan and Lynze married in 2016, surrounded by friends, family and their kids. Despite how happy they were to be able to be major influences in their kids’ lives, the financial stress of life was really weighing on them. Dan continued to tour but ticket sales remained almost nonexistent, and he thought his career in standup might truly be over within the next few years. Lynze took a job in real estate to help pay the bills and with the notion that if all else failed, Dan would join her.
With his stand up career seeming to fade, Dan launched a solo podcast, Timesuck , in 2016, as a latch-ditch effort to build a fanbase in hopes of being able to continue touring.
Timesuck is a weekly deep-dive into one topic a week that can be anything from true crime to a historical event to a cult to a conspiracy. It combines two of Dan’s passions, comedy and constantly learning something new. The concept, which Lynze didn’t really initially understand,was so wildly unpopular that only one podcast network even considered adding Timesuck to their roster. And then that network essentially fired Dan shortly after this consideration, believing the podcast concept was completely unmarketable.
This was a career rock bottom moment for Dan. He’d gone from having an hour special on Comedy Central six years earlier to no podcast network being willing to invest about a hundred bucks a month into hosting Timesuck. Lynze was also struggling. Real estate wasn’t quite what she had expected. Things were not looking good for Dan and Lynze and their future.
Rather than give up on the idea of Timesuck, Dan trusted his instincts, and still believed it could work. With Lynze’s support, he decided to do it all himself. He paid to produce and distribute Timesuck himself, and within a few months, the podcast had grown too getting over 10,000 weekly downloads. Then, Dan started marketing the podcast to his standup audience on Pandora, where he had quietly built up over two hundred thousand fans, and Timesuck’s downloads doubled in a week. Then they doubled again the next week. And again the week after that. After several more weeks of this, Dan approached and started working with the podcasting ad acquisition company, Midroll. And some small ads came in! Dan and Lynze breathed a sigh of relief. It was working.
But then, right when things were looking good, the podcast industry went through a big analytics shift and just about every show found out their podcast audience wasn’t nearly as big as they had once believed.
Dan lost all of his new sponsors.
Another low point.
Some fans of Dan and of Timesuck, who also happened to be app designers, talked Dan and Lynze into building a Timesuck app in late 2017. The app would pair with Patreon, the popular patronage site that allows fans to financially support the artists they love to help them produce content. This had the potential to provide the financial support the show needed, outside of ads.
Signing off on the app development was a HUGE financial risk. It was agiant leap of faith. Dan and Lynze didn’t even have enough money in the bank to pay for the app. They were watching their savings dwindle, and quickly. They wondered if Dan had enough fans to make the investment pay off. If the fans didn’t support him on Patreon, they would legitimately go bankrupt and lose their home in Idaho. Despite the odds being stacked against, then, Dan and Lynze leaned into Patreon working. Hard. With the anticipation of this all working, Dan and Lynze nervously spent more money to rent a studio space and hire an audio engineer to help with the bonus content Dan would need to create for Patreon.