RECENT PODCASTS OF DELIGHT
I listen to a lot of podcasts, and every few months I run dry, having listened to all the episodes I have access to, or just getting bored with what I've been listening to. I generally prefer longer podcasts, just because my brain needs some depth to really get going -- if I'm inking drawings or doing other mindless automatic stuff, I want to get into a zone pretty deep, and not have to bubble back up to the surface every 20 minutes or so. I'm not crazy about a lot of comedy podcasts, but I bet that's just mood -- one day I'll probably get into those MaxFun podcasts a bunch of my friends love, but right now they just seem kind of arch and overly-clever to me.
I thought I'd share some I recently started listening to that I'm really crazy about, in order of crazy-aboutness:
1) PROFESSOR BLASTOFF
Man. This podcast works for me just on every level. I think I backed into it through numerous mentions on Doug Loves Movies, and then Tig Notaro's hilarious segment on the recent This American Life live show. For one thing, it's just 3 very good friends who are very VERY good at talking to each other -- in terms of not talking over each other, interruptions, etc. -- and VERY funny together. The basic setup is they choose a theme, loosely science/philosophy based, and then sorrrrt of talk about that topic for an hour or so, occasionally with comedian guest stars. It's pretty great.
I've only listened to about 7 or 8 of these, but a good starter ep would be the Paul F. Tompkins episode. Also the Self-Esteem episode was really great too. It's just a very relaxed, warm show -- you might laugh, but it reminds me very much of the feeling I get watching Bob's Burgers. It's just a group of people who love each other very much, which just feels good to be a part of for a second. And once you get into the show, the episode "Tig Notaro Is Back!" really broke my heart. I feel like it would cheapen it a little to describe it in my "hey! awesome podcast!!!" blog post, so just listen to it for yourself. Heavy, and amazing, and beautiful.
2) THE TED RADIO HOUR PODCAST
Also on the science tip, but actually scientific rather than funny-scientific, is the TED Radio Hour podcast, which is different from the regular TED podcast, in that it's an hour-long show that not only includes excerpts of real TED talks, but then has in-studio bits with the talkers themselves (or sometimes their subjects) going more in-depth on some of what they'd talked about. Always fascinating to hear thinkers expound on their thinking.
My favorite episode so far is the Pursuit of Happiness episode, which includes a great segment with Malcolm Gladwell talking about Prego tomato sauce in the 80's.
3) HERE'S THE THING
Alec Baldwin's WNYC interview podcast is not... it's not great, in and of itself, but I'm always fascinated. The timing is odd, but Alec is such a big celebrity with such personal confidence, his interview style is very chummy and straight ahead, but so much more confident than a regular NPR interviewer that it's almost worth it just for that.
The best episode by far is the Dick Cavett episode, although I really enjoyed the Kristen Wiig ep too.
Other podcasts I really enjoy include:
--Doug Love Movies: Doug Benson playing games with a rotating list of his comedian, actor, and filmmaker friends
--Planet Money: Economics on a sociological level--vastly fascinating ideas, presented with a minimum of ideology but a maximum of plain old ideas. Planet Money is sort of an offshoot of This American Life and NPR News--imagine if NPR News was anchored by young people who weren't suspicious of Facebook or pretend to not know what to call tweets ("twootering," "twitting," "Twitterbook"). It's everything that's great about This American Life, with that syrupy air of privilege removed. I only wish it were longer!
--How Did This Get Made? Hilarious discussion of mainly terrible movies, but occasionally terrible-on-purpose movies (think Crank 2)
--Selected Shorts: actors and writers reading short stories. Great listening for cartoonists
--WTF: Sometimes brilliant, sometimes uneven interview podcast
--Tell Me Something I Don't Know: Jim Rugg and Jason Lex's new interview podcast
--My Brother, My Brother And Me: hilarious advice show hosted by three brothers with a really remarkable ability to be funny together without ever fighting or interrupting each other.