podcast blast - an intro to podcast listening
this is a long post so you might want to dip in and out if your brain can’t take all the waffle in one sitting
I hope you’re all good and have enjoyed your weekend!
As it’s January and a cruddy month of waiting for pay day, I haven’t been planning many shenanigans in an attempt to save funds. This means that I’m in my house more and therefore looking around and noticing what a mess the place is. Over the next few weeks I need to correct that and start 'blitzing’ the joint. A big clean can sometimes be therapeutic but other times it’s just a big ol’ pain in the butt. I do have a proper ‘throw away session’ planned for late Feb, so in the meantime I just need to keep on top of things - ha.
I don’t know about you, but when I clean I need to listen to something to take my mind off the dull, dull, dull task at hand. I subscribe to Audible and I love it, but I mainly listen to my audio books on my big commute to work rather than when I’m mooching around the house. I also have about 20 different music playlists loaded on my phone to combat my various moods but can find that if I listen to heavy music e.g. Metallica, I knacker myself right out… so for the gym that’s great, but for cleaning its a little dangerous as I run out of puff and just give up. So what I need is hour long things that I can listen to while I’m faffing, but that don’t get me all riled up - that is where the humble podcast comes in.
My husband tried for years to get me into podcasts to no avail (I feel pretty bad about my resistance now) and it ended up being a friend at work that recommended My Dad Wrote a Porno, that opened me up to the frankly massive world of podcasts… sorry Chris.
As an Apple fiend I use the Apple podcast app to track down all of my favourite listens and I subscribe to the really great ones to make sure I never miss a new episode. Below I’ve categorised and listed a few of what I consider to be podcast gems… there’s something for everyone so fingers crossed you’ll find one that floats your boat. If you’ve never listened to a podcast before, what are you waiting for…
true crime podcasts
Anyone that knows me is aware of my weird obsession with true crime. I know that these days it’s no big deal to be into true crime, it’s everywhere, you can’t move on Netflix for documentaries about serial killers, murderers and spree killers… but back when I was a kid, if you wanted to get a hit of the macabre you had to cycle to your local library and take out up to 8 books on the subject… and possibly be put on some sort of watch-list somewhere?! I devoured books on Jack the Ripper and in my teens was hooked on Forensic Files. Now I’m a grown-ass woman I can buy my own damn books and watch as many programmes as I please on the subject - ahhhh.
As far as true crime podcasts go, they tend to fall into three categories… 1. factual but sometimes verging on the dry with a different subject each episode 2. cold case style, where an whole series is dedicated to one subject or 3. factual… but funny. I know that might sound a bit strange or even distasteful to anyone that doesn’t listen to them… but to get it, you do need to try rather than pre-judge. The funny ones are successful because they’re done in a very considered way, they always punch up and never victim-blame, therefore I don’t have a problem with them and enjoy quite a few.
true crime - funny
This podcast was recommended to me by a friend and I have to say after listening to the first episode I wasn’t too sure - the sound was pretty quiet and although the hosts were funny it just didn’t click for me straight away. When this happens, I make myself persevere for 5 episodes, if I still don’t like it, then I quit. I am so glad I have this rule as 5 episodes in, I got it, I was hooked and now I get fidgety waiting for the next episode to appear. The hosts, Rachel Fairburn and Kiri Pritchard Mc-Lean are bloody hilarious and I think that as the podcast has grown, so has their friendship. You can hear it in the way they talk to each other - there are plenty of in-jokes and despite the name, these days there is more filla than killa, but I don’t care as the filla is wonderful and I sometimes find myself looking forward to that more than the killa. They’re both comedians and that’s why the show is so perfectly pitched. They have a disclaimer at the beginning that says ‘this isn’t hero worship’ and it is very much not that, they frequently take the piss out of the killers but it’s by no means lazy finger-pointing, they research their subjects well and this combined with their comedy talents means they’re able to take the killers apart piece by piece in a way that us norms just couldn’t do. The show is so popular that they’ve started touring it and I’m really hoping to get the chance to see it soon.
Favourite episode - Harold Shipman or the Richard Ramirez episode (part 1) which is the source of one of the best in-jokes of the entire series so far… sorry Rachel.
This podcast was one of the first that I really got hooked on, but interestingly its one that doesn’t always gel with people when I recommend it to them - they find the hosts too loud and too American - hahaha.
Basically, it’s another funny true-crime podcast. This one is hosted by Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski. Much like All Killa, they punch up and don’t victim blame. They’ll always go after the killers and attack all elements of their character, but again, it’s done in a funny way. Ben Kissel and Henry Zebrowski are both comedians and you might recognise Henry from a few movies and Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell. Marcus Parks is the producer of the show and also the main researcher. The fact that they’re clearly best friends means that the conversation flows and there are soooo many in-jokes now it’s like having little Easter eggs in each episode. Henry has created some insane character voices over the years which pop up occasionally to give their options and they are hilarious - most notably, Detective Popcorn and Minne and Nannie, who, when I first hear him do their voices, I was on a packed train and was desperately trying not to cry with laughter. They tend to branch out from just true crime and cover all sorts of weird and wonderful subjects including the occult, UFOs, ghosts, conspiracy theories and cults. They do ‘heavy-hitter’ episodes which are sometimes over 3 hours worth of delving into one subject - these are my favourite.
Favourite episode - There are hundreds to chose from but I really liked the BTK episode (where we meet Detective Popcorn) or the OJ Simpson episode. Or if you’re after one where they take things a little more seriously and it’s just an interesting well-researched episode - the Columbine two parter was full of misconceptions about what happened that day - very heavy, but very interesting.
true crime - serious
Ooh okay, so I really enjoy Someone Knows Something. It’s such an interesting podcast as it covers stories that are basically unsolved cold cases. The host David Ridgen is an award winning filmmaker and writer and he has a wonderful unflappable Canadian accent that draws you in. He spends an entire series following one particular case, and then, in following series he revisits those cases when he has new leads to discuss - that way you feel like you’re kept in the loop with what’s going on. If you like resolution in your true crime, then you sadly won’t find it here. These are cold cases, so by their very nature, incredibly difficult to solve. This means that David has the unenviable task of re-interviewing and revisiting the case from all available angles. He does this with consideration and care for the victim and the victims family. I like his style as it draws you right in, he records as he goes so you feel like you’re right there with him trying to get to the bottom of what happened.
Favourite episode - I really enjoyed the first series which is all about disappearance of Adrien McNaughton in the seventies. Each series is great, but I was particularly pulled into this one.
In the Dark is another great true crime podcast that picks one subject per series to investigate. The host is Madeleine Baran, an investigative reporter who in the first series follows the case of Jacob Wetterling who was kidnapped and murdered in 1989. Interestingly this series was started before the discovery of Jacob’s body and the arrest and eventual conviction of his abductor and murderer. This meant that the first few episodes were re-edited and the premise of the podcast changed from being a cold case investigation to a podcast that looked into the sheer ineptitude of the Sheriff’s Office. This was a hard listen as there were soooo many mistakes made… to the point where Jacob’s life could have been saved if information was acted upon rather than being ignored. Although a tough and complicated subject, Madeleine manages to pick her way through the evidence and presents her findings with determination and care for the families feelings.
Favourite episode - Episode 8 “what’s going on down there” was probably the most compelling as it brought together all the information Madeleine had found on just how terrible the Sheriff’s department had handled the investigation.
Phew, so onto lighter topics.
If you’re not a fan of true crime and instead prefer a nice casual chat between two people that hold your interest, then interview podcasts are probably more your thing. Regardless of who your heroes are, there will be a podcast for you that discusses their talents and, if they’re still kicking, interviews them.
I’ve chosen two of what I think are the best and most varied interview style podcasts out there for your delectation. If this style is your bag, then do have a search of your own as there really are 1,000’s to choose from.
Although Ricky Gervais holds the title of being one of the original Podfathers, I feel like Marc Maron deserves that title just as much. His WTF podcast has been going since 2009 and was basically started as a last chance saloon after he suffered some career set-backs. Despite that, WTF has gone on to be one of the most successful podcasts of all time, it’s never out of the Top 100 chart and he has interviewed Obama for crying out loud!!! While Marc has a reputation for being a bit of a curmudgeon, I love both him and his comedy and have had the pleasure of catching his last two tours in London. He’s a very funny man and as an interviewer always manages to get the best out of his guests. Although I mainly enjoy listening to his interviews with actors, he also interviews musicians, comedians, writers and directors. While the podcast is fairly structured, Marc he can quickly change tact if needed and, again, being a comedian this means that he’s able to do this whilst remaining quick witted.
Favourite episode - I really loved his interview with Chris O’ Dowd as they both seemed to get along very well and it was an entertaining interview. His Obama interview was just amazing and is worth a listen. I think only the last 50 are available on the apple podcast app, but he did an interview with Rob Reiner and it was absolutely terrific (but that’s because I bloody love Rob Reiner and he’s had a fascinating life).
Although the Adam Buxton Podcast has only been going since 2015, Adam (Dr Buckles) has already managed to amass quite the following and a large collection of interviews with actors, comedians, musicians etc. I’ve always liked Adam Buxton, I used to watch The Adam and Joe Show when I was younger so when I found out Adam had a podcast, I subscribed straight away. All his episodes start with him taking his scrappy little dog Rosie for a walk. He uses these walks as an opportunity to give an update on any news he has and also to explain who he’s interviewing. I love his little intros and outros and also his jingles which appear on every podcast. He does have ads but cleverly merges them into funny skits or jingles so you never mind being advertised at. Some of my biggest train chuckles have been while listening to his shows, most notably when him and school friend Louis Theroux get together, it’s always insanely hilarious. The Christmas specials are also great as Adam is reunited with Joe Cornish for lots of ramble chats and the infamous ‘doodle story’ which is drawn out every year.
Favourite episode - It has to be the last interview with Louis which ended with an incredibly high-pitched rendition of ‘Yes sir, I can boogie’ which made me cry with laughter. Also his recent interview with Simon Pegg was great as well as his Nish Kumar episode.
I’m a big fan of movies and will watch just about anything, even if it’s been given a terrible rotten tomatoes rating… I’ll still try it, just in case. My family have a habit of enjoying films which are globally panned and its a bit of a family joke.
I need to expand my collection of movie-based podcasts and after a few posts on Twitter I’ve been sent some new podcasts to test out, so I’m very grateful for that. In the meantime I have just the one to pimp, but hopefully in the future I’ll be able to do another post with a larger list.
This podcast was a recommendation from my husband (see I do listen to him sometimes) and it’s one that I really enjoy. On HDTGM they pick a movie each week that was basically considered to be a bit of a flop. With the help of some surprise guests, they take the movie apart and try to work out who the heck let it happen. While it might help if you have seen the movie they’re discussing, it’s not essential as they do explain the premise… I just think if you haven’t seen it, you might miss out on some of the jokes. The podcast is hosted by Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas. They’re all very funny people and you’d probably recognise all of them - Paul Scheer (who is married to the lovely June) from The League or maybe Veep, June Diane Raphael from Grace and Frankie on Netflix and Jason Mantzoukas from just about everything (he’s so hot right now) but recently, Brooklyn Nine Nine, The League, The House and How to be Single. The majority of the time the shows are recorded in front of a live audience at the Largo in LA. This adds to the fun as the audience are allowed to ask questions and sometimes get up to sing songs and are generally waaaay invested in the terrible movies being discussed. This, plus the Second Opinions section where they read ill-advised 5 star Amazon reviews of the movies, really makes this podcast fun to listen to, particularly if, like me, you’re partial to a terrible movie.
Favourite episode - I really enjoyed the Face-Off episode, it was one of the funniest for the ‘face waterfall’ conversation. Also the Geostorm episode which has created the in-joke of shouting GEOOOOOSTOOOORRMM at any given opportunity. Also any episode where Adam Scott is a guest as he’s always very funny and very excitable.
Again, it’s pretty difficult to find good podcasts about television programmes as people tend to do a HDTGM and discuss a different show per podcast rather than focusing on one particular show and just discuss that. I do understand the reasoning behind that, it has to be a very popular show to be worth the discussion e.g. there is an entire television show dedicated to Game of Thrones and another dedicated to The Walking Dead, this is because there is plenty to talk about per episode, plus there are sooo many fans out there that are interested to know more about what happens behind the scenes.
With that in mind, I’ve picked two massive shows that both have podcasts dedicated to them.
I only found out about this recently from a comment on an Instagram post and I was so excited to find that there was a podcast dedicated to The Good Place. I’m a huge fan of all things Mike Schur, who was involved in The American Office, Parks and Recreation and also Brooklyn Nine Nine. The Good Place is such a wonderful show and the premise is also very interesting. If you haven’t seen it, I can’t say much because of spoilers, but if you have Netflix, it’s sooo worth watching. If you already watch it and enjoy it, then the good news is that this podcast goes episode by episode and explains what went into it. The podcast is hosted by Marc Evan Jackson who plays Shawn in the show, but you might also recognise him from Brooklyn Nine Nine where he plays Raymond Holt’s partner Kevin and from Parks and Rec where he plays Trevor. Each podcast Marc runs through an episode of The Good Place while interviewing a mix of actors, writers and/or directors involved. It’s such a great listen as you get a behind the scenes look into what goes on, plus when the actors from the show are interviewed you find out about how they got their parts in the show and when they were told about the big plot items that happen along the way. If you like the show, it’s worth a listen.
This podcast is one where I pick and chose which episodes I listen to. It’s by no means a negative review against the hosts of the show - Allie Goertz and Julia Prescott as they are both so enthusiastic about The Simpsons and I enjoy their chat, but I find that I dip in and out of this every now and then rather than binge listen to it. Each episode they interview comedians, writers, animators and/or show creators and ask them to talk about their favourite episode of The Simpsons. As there are soooo many episodes of The Simpsons to chose from, this podcast has longevity in it so I think that’s why I feel like I can dip, as I know it’s going to be around for some time. If you love The Simpsons, then you’ll also enjoy listening to funny people break down a particular episode and poke fun at the characters, offer up their favourite quotes and just generally have a good long natter about the show.
something different podcasts
Soooo, here we are at the last category *wipes sweat off brow* this whole post is going to be a ruddy nightmare to spellcheck. I lumped these five podcasts into the ‘something different’ category as I’m not too sure where to place them in the grand scheme of things. They’re all bloody brilliant podcasts and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to each one but to try to pigeonhole them was too difficult, unless there is a pigeonhole simply called ‘bloody brilliant’. So, here we go…
Ah, here it is, the podcast that started me down this road of podcast blasting… the very funny and completely bonkers My Dad Wrote A Porno podcast. This podcast does exactly what it says on the tin. The hosts Jamie Morton, James Cooper and Alice Levine are all friends from University. Jamie’s father wrote a series of erotic novels which he handed over to his son at a family Christmas gathering. Luckily… or unluckily… depending on whether you’re Jamie, these novels quickly became the subject of a podcast where each episode Jamie, James and Alice read out a chapter from the books and descend into laughter and despair. This podcast has gone from being a bit of a cult favourite to now having global success, a book tour and possibly… a movie made. Hahaha. It could be considered a bit mean for three people to read out a mans hard work and mock it, but the way they go about it doesn’t ever seem cruel or unkind, plus they have Jamie’s dads blessing. The books follow the sexy(?) mis-adventures of Belinda Blumenthal who works in sales at a Pots and Pans company called Steeles - sounds hot right?! Haha. I can’t really explain the books, you’ll just have to listen… but they really are absolutely mad and worth your time, I promise, 150 million downloads can’t be wrong… right?
This podcast might sound a little bleak… I mean, it’s called Griefcast for crying out loud… but bear with me, because it’s wonderful. Griefcast is hosted by the beautiful and wonderful Cariad Lloyd who I am in love with. She’s a fantastic comedian, writer, actor and you’ll have seen her on a few panel shows over the years I’m sure. Cariad was recording interviews with friends where they talked openly about the death of a friend or family member, it wasn’t until 2016 that she decided to turn them into a podcast which became an immediate success. Cariad’s father died when she was a teenager and she has used her own experiences to talk about death and what it does to people - the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s a complicated jumble of emotions because its subject matter is steeped in negativity, but she’s still able to find comedy and light in having her guests remember funny stories about the people they’ve loved and lost. It’s very unique and could only really be hosted by Cariad. If you get a chance, I would also recommend listening to her interview on the Adam Buxton Podcast as it was very interesting for the two of them to talk via his show.
Favourite episode - Her interview with with Adam Buxton was a great listen and the first episode of the podcast. I also really enjoyed her interview with Aisling Bea and her interview with Suzi Ruffell about her nan, who sounds like an utter legend.
Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast… or as the cool kids call it RHLSTP is a great listen. This podcast is crowdfunded, as is most of the wonderful stuff that Richard creates, and is recorded in front of an audience at the Leicester Square Theatre in London. I could have put this in the Interview Podcast section, but I feel like this show is a bit more than a simple interview podcast. Richard Herring, who you may know from being in a double-act with Stewart Lee and also from Fist of Fun in the late 80’s, is a brilliantly funny man. His stand up shows are lethal to your health, you laugh so much you find it hard to breathe, and his recent book - Richard Herring’s Emergency Questions is full of 1001 daft questions to ask people, for example - As you lay dying, which celebrity would you want to stroke your hair? The Podcast follows the usual interview format of having a guest on and asking them questions, but because Richard is a comedian and incredibly quick-witted, plus the show is in front of an audience, he feeds off them, as does the guest and this in turn makes for a more exciting interview. He gets the best out of the people he interviews and breaks up the process by firing off emergency questions at random. He will give the guests freedom to go off on tangents and that sometimes the interview on weird journeys, but everyone revels in it. It’s 100% worth a listen.
Favourite episode - I really enjoyed his interview with Dawn French and I think that he got sooo much out of her. I also enjoyed his Greg Davis interview which was very funny. His Brian Blessed interview (who Richard always wanted to interview) was chaos, but worth it, just to hear Brian’s voice and so many of his crazy stories.
Dumb People Town is another one I like to dip into. The hosts are Daniel Van Kirk, who is a comedian, actor and writer and Randy and Jason Sklar who are twins and a stand up comedy duo. As their website strap-line says, “it’s as much an exploration as it is a celebration of dumb people doing dumb things (often in Florida)” and that pretty much sums up the premise of the podcast. It’s a sort of list of possible contenders for the Darwin Awards… stupid people, doing stupid things. Every episode the guys pick a few different newspaper articles, most of which are sent in by fans via Twitter and the Facebook group and then they pick through the stories with a special guest and pull it to pieces complete with reenactments including character voices and a lot of laughs. The stories are always completely bonkers but entertaining and if you’re after a giggle, it’s a good ‘un.
Favourite episode - The episode with Jon Hamm - Bring In The Nerp was brilliant and also the episode with Dan Harmon - The Nissan Ring of Power
If you’ve watched the new series of Queer Eye on Netflix then you’ll already be aware of the whirlwind of joy and sass that is Jonathan van Ness. If you’re not aware, then you need to get some Queer Eye in your life, as it’s life-affirming sparkle - YAS QUEEN. Jonathan has been hosting the Getting Curious podcast since 2015, but it was the Queer Eye series that really pushed him into being a household name. He seems like a lovely genuine person and in his podcast he asks questions and gets on expert guests to help him answer them. Previous episode questions include Who Was the Beyoncé of Renaissance Art? What Makes a Cult a Cult? and What is Astronomy Even? The podcast is always thought-provoking and educational and Jonathan is a gracious and engaging host. If you find yourself asking a lot of questions, maybe this is the podcast for you.
Favourite episode - I really enjoyed the episodes where Jonathan interviewed his fellow Queer Eye hosts individually. It was really nice to get to know more about them and to hear that they clearly all get along very well.
Wowzer… if you’re still here, congratulations. That was a monster to write so was almost certainly a monster to read.
Hopefully there was something for you to download and get your teeth into.
I’ll put together another podcast post in the future if this one gets enough reads… I can check that sort of thing now I know how my Analytics work! OoooOOoooooOoooh!
So, anyway, there we go. Until next time beans x