As we parcel together our latest episode (we are working on it, slowly. It's a pyramid of a thing. Not a big one or a good one, but it takes a long time and requires the services of fifty-thousand Hebrew slaves), I thought I'd go on about what podcasts I listen to. Because if you're depending on us not only are you a sad bastard, but you are entirely fictional.
You'll note that they're all better than my own, but that should go without saying.
So, as an Ork might say, "'ere we go!"
The Adam Carolla Show*--
I don't know that I need to explain who Adam Carolla is or what his program is. You can probably guess. I don't listen to every episode the man puts out (which is one a day, which must be some kind of a record), but when I do, especially after a break, it's a welcome change of pace as sometimes I just want to hear one man wax on and on without anyone else to break the pace. Carolla was born with the gift of gab and it shows as he can pretty much turn something he just learned about into twenty minutes of material. I can appreciate that.
Comedy Bang Bang--
I suppose if you enjoy laughter this is the place to go. Every week the show, hosted by Scott Auckerman, involves a guest (typically another comedian) being interviewed and then interrupted and hijacked by some sort of a madman.The hijacker ranges from Ice T to cowboy poet laureates to Huell Howser (which meets my daily need of Huell Howser impressions). As much as I love other comedic podcasts I'd be hard pressed to think of a program funnier than this one. I actually was scolded the other day because I was laughing so hard at a bit with Christopher Hitchens and recently one of my friends laughed so hard he vomited. I'd wager it was worth it in both cases.
Jordan Jesse Go!*--
This program is the very definition of delightful. It is hosted by Jesse Thorn (America's Radio Sweetheart) and Jordan Morris (Boy Detective) and while it fits snuggly into the "two guys talking about
stuff" genre it is, as they will tell you, "created by
fucking professionals." Just about every week they're joined by a friend, usually a comedian or an actor and they commence to gab about whatever they want ranging from dogs to terrifying tales of sea madness to pornography to trying to become queer icons. And despite their highly regrettable nickname choices from college their program ranges from being legitimately hilarious to sincerely touching. Jordan and Jesse is about as sweet as it is incredibly vulgar. It's kind of amazing that they can pull off that kind of a balance.
Giant Bomb is just about the best video game website
that there is and among their various attributes the Giant Bombcast is
probably their crown jewel. If you don't care for video games this progam is going to be a two and a half hour misery-fest, but if you do then this is the show you should be listening to. It's a long and dense podcast filled with as much cultural ephemera as it is filled with actual insight and opinions about video games.As focused as it is it never becomes newsy and never becomes bogged down in the kind of pretentious nonsense that forums are lousy with. It really just sounds like five or six of your friends sitting in a room and talking about video games.
Dan Carlin's in depth and entertaining history podcast is what I imagine to be the best history podcast out there. Dan typically only ever speaks on the most violent and terrible eras of history which is great for me because there is never too information in my mind about the Ostfront in WWII or the wars with the Apaches. He has an unusual speaking style, but once you get past that what you end up with is some well researched and well written monologues about history from somebody that is enthusiastic about things like the Roman equestrian class.The only problem is that they come out about once every six months, which I guess is nice because it keeps the guilt of an overflowing backlog ever coming to be. And that's just the worst.
Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo Film Review--
Not the most cleverly titled book in the bunch, but probably the best. It's been my favorite podcast for years and has been the source of some of my most polemic opinions. The Good Doctor himself is a polemecist, but where he differs from the average sort of internet scumbag or professional trolls is that he will present an argument that is well founded, well argued, and always seem to have a basis in fact as much as they do in personal taste. The same goes for the movie he loves. He has passionate opinions, so even when those questions are about something as questionable as Twilight, he actually has something interesting and effecting to say that might just make you wonder if they aren't terrible movies. Such is his power.
What's great about Mark Kermode is that as much as he hates a movie-- or loves a movie-- he always manages to qualify it and give reasons as to why he believes this (or as to why it is this he believes-- he's a grammar stickler, among other varieties of stickler). What's more is that even in the midst of his most volatile "Kermodian Rants" he does something a lot of other film people-- and the most negative types-- miss: He's entertaining, he's intelligent, and he loves film.
Elvis Mitchell must be a genius, because he certainly isn't an idiot. What's incredible about the show isn't always who the guest is, but the kinds of layered and thoughtful questions that Mitchell makes about TV shows and movies that range from art-house to blockbusters. Every project discussed on the show is handled with the same kind of thoughtfulness as everything else and the questions are asked in such a way that make you think that Elvis sees something that we can't and not because he's trying to kiss ass to his big shot guest.
Recently the screenwriter of Red Tails was on and while that movie is apparently not very good, what he had to say about the craft was really quite amazing. I was inspired! As much laughter and entertainment I get out of some of these other programs it's hard to walk away with what feels like real knowledge. It seems that some of the best guests, as with Marc Maron's WTF seem to be the ones you would never expect and like Elvis' questions you have to assume that there's something great to be found everywhere.
World Book Club--
The World Book Club is a simple show: It takes an author and the host then asks that author questions from the audience. It's pretty simple, but what's attractive about something doesn't need to be clever or complicated. Like WTF and like The Treatment, most of the time I have no idea who these people on this show are, but that's kind of the charm. I normally would not ever hear from a Swedish crime writer like Jo Nesbo nor would I ever spend my time hunting for a James Elroy interview, but these people almost have something incredible to say about writing and about their work. If it isn't functional advice (and it isn't an advice program, let me be clear about that), it's something that's inspirational, or it's like a clue to a crime and the author reveals something profound just by the act of speaking about their work. It only comes out about once a month, which is perfect as you'll never have a backlog like Adam Carolla seems to always have***.
Now that I've gone through the list here I realize that I've left out a few on accident. I might have to do a second round of this. Then again Marc Maron doesn't need any more publicity, does he?
With all of that said: Hello to Jason Isaacs.
*Jesse Thorn also hosts a program "Bullseye" which is an hour long
program about various aspects of pop culture, from comedians to
non-fiction writers to video games to reviews of forty year old live jazz
songs. I'd have listed it here, as well, but I didn't think it fair to
**Dan Carlin also has a program called Common Sense, which is an
incredibly insightful program, but I had to stop listening because,
goddamn, that show is a bummer. If I wanted to learn about how fucked
America is I'd talk to my dad and it wouldn't take me forty minutes. . .
well, maybe it would.
***The World Book Club also has the best names in the world. I'm always dismayed that no one ever comments on the names of the people on that show.