Dan Cummins Toxic Thoughts (Just Dan) (1)

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.

Screen Shot 2021-04-29 at 11.11.24 AM

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.

dan-cummins-dont-wake-the-bear-1

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. 

DanCummins_CourtesyShoreFireMedia2

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. 


Daniel_Cummins

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. 


 

When the app was finished in February of 2018, the Timesuck Patreon account was launched. This was the big “make it or break it” moment. Thankfully, the fans showed up! They pledged $4500 in monthly subscriptions in just the first few days. And then more fans showed up. By December, the monthly Patreon had grown too over $22,000. Dan and Lynze literally cried tears of joy. It worked. It really worked. 


And it has kept on working. 
 


In May of 2018, patronage had increased to the point that Dan and Lynze started giving some of the money to charity – 20% of everything above $10,000, the monthly operating costs of Timesuck at that time which now included numerous off-site part-time employees, app development costs, continual equipment upgrades, and more. 


Also in 2018, standup ticket sales continued to increase and Dan jumped from playing clubs to small theaters in some markets. Timesuck made numerous “best of” podcast lists, and weekly downloads increased too well over a hundred thousand. 


Dan started to sell out more and more shows around the country. He also nearly had a nervous breakdown pulling so many late nights trying to handle touring and growing a podcast business where each weekly episode required over forty hours of research. 


Lynze, once again sacrificed her career, quitting Real Estate to work at the studio. While she wasn’t in love with Real Estate, she did value having something that was uniquely hers. And she was good at it. In just one year of working in Real Estate, Lynze won awards, was sought out by clients and brokerages alike and had built up a great reputation. She could see what was happening now with Timesuck though, she could see the potential, and new Dan needed help. Dan needed the specific set of skills that Lynze had acquire while working in production in LA. She knew that if she applied her production skills to podcasting, she could take over a lot of Dan’s responsibilities and open up the space for him to focus more on content creation. So she did. She walked away from another career.

Screen Shot 2021-04-29 at 10.03.34 AM

In 2019, Dan and Lynze once again took a giant leap. 
 


They rented additional studio space, bought state of the art audio and video equipment, hired more employees including an additional engineer and researcher, and that September, they started co-hosting a horror podcast they’d conceptualized, Scared to Death. The concept was simple: Dan, who had loved the world of horror before he ever liked comedy, would read supposedly true campfire tales to Lynze in an attempt to scare her. 


Lightning struck, again! Scared To Death was an immediate success! 
 


Dan scared Lynze so badly that she almost quit the show. And he also scared their audience so much that they began to tell their friends and encourage them to start listening. And then the fans started sending in paranormal experiences of their own, which Lynze later began reading to Dan, as a sort of way to get back at him for the scares he had bestowed upon her. This small change made the show even more popular. Scared To Death started to grow massively, reaching almost 100,000 downloads a week by the end of the year. 2019 had been a wild and successful year. Dan and Lynze were gearing up for 2020.


2020 started out with Dan’s most successful standup shows to date. 
 Full weekends of shows were selling out well in advance and additional shows were being added. Twenty years of grinding in standup was really paying off. 


And then Covid happened.


Everything came to a halt. No more live shows. Podcast consumption dropped industry-wide, approximately 20%. Podcast advertisers also pulled back as the economy went into free fall. 


Screen Shot 2021-04-28 at 2.33.02 PM

Dan and Lynze had been here before. They knew all too well how quickly things could change. 


Instead of panicking, Dan and Lynze doubled down on podcasting. Dan chose to cancel all of his touring for well over a year and filled that time with the launch of another podcast. Dan co-hosts Is We Dumb? with his audio engineer, Joe Paisley. The show mocks the ignorance we all see on the internet – like petty one-star Yelp reviewers trying to ruin businesses because they don’t take the time to understand their products. It also mocks all of the dumb things that Dan and Joe both do themselves. Is We Dumb is now a sponsored podcast that gets roughly 300,000 downloads a month. 


Dan and Lynze marketed Timesuck and Scared to Death heavily in 2020, growing Timesuck into over two million downloads a month and Scared to Death to over a million downloads a month. They rebranded their studio as Bad Magic Productions with Timesuck, Scared to Death, and Is We Dumb? all falling under the Bad Magic Productions banner. 


They launched a Patreon account for their die hard Scared to Death fans, that provides over $19,000 a month in fan subscriptions. Timesuck’s Patreon has grown to over $47,000 a month. This has allowed them to hire a full-time in-house merch designer and social media manager. Bad Magic Productions now has five full-time employees and six part-time employees. Dan and Lynze increased their monthly donations to twenty percent of all Patreon contributions, allowing them to donate to a different charity each month. As of April, 2021, Bad Magic Productions has given over $190,000 to charities like the Equal Justice Initiative, the Alzheimer’s Association, Meals on Wheels, Holding Out Help, and more. 


The three Bad Magic Productions shows combined get over 3.6 million downloads a month. Add on Youtube, giving them an additional 430,000+ views for a total of over 4 million listens a month. With this kind of momentum and support from the fans, Dan and Lynze are dreaming of ways to take every aspect of their business further. The want to create and connect with more fans, give back even more to their global community, build their own studio, and possibly launch their own podcast network

This August, Dan will begin his stand up tour, Symphony of Madness and when there’s time, write a horror novel.

Lynze will continue to hold down the fort at home and at Bad Magic Productions while also founding a yet to be named non-profit. The purpose of the non-profit, is to not only continue to support various community causes but to also provide the funding for Bad Magic’s annual holiday giving tree and a future college scholarship fund. 


Get Outta Here Devil Cover
%d bloggers like this: