Short version: I have discovered the wonder that is podcasts.
Long version: I used to listen to comedy radio via Pandora while I was working at HK which introduced me to a whole new world of comedians, one of whom was Doug Benson. In one of the Doug Benson bits that I heard, he mentioned that he had a podcast called Doug Loves Movies. So I checked it out. It was awesome! Then, on one of his podcasts, he had on Pete the Retailer and Alex Robinson to promote their podcast, Star Wars Minute. Love it! On another one of his podcasts, he mentioned that he was going to be on an episode of @midnight which is hosted by Chris Hardwick (who was also an occasional guest on Doug Loves Movies). I knew Chris Hardwick was part of – or creator of? – Nerdist and decided to check out his podcast. Wonderful! And then Doug mentioned yet another podcast that he does called Dining With Doug and Karen which is super fun, too! I’m not sure how I ended up discovering How Did This Get Made? but it is hilarious. I had heard of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, but had never listened to it and was pleasantly surprised when it accompanied me on a drive to Chicago a few weeks ago for Cayt’s baby shower. I had been meaning to listen to The Alton Browncast for a while, but only finally got around to it a month or so ago and really enjoyed it. And last up is I Don’t Even Own a Television which is basically How Did This Get Made? but for books. Yay!
The premise: Doug Benson hosts various comedians, actors, etc. and they talk about movies. The podcasts usually include various movie-themed games such as The Seth Rogen Game AKA Last Man Stanton where the panelists have to list as many movies as they can from an audience-chosen actor, actress, or director and the last panelist left wins. The Seth Rogen Game often leads into the Leonard Maltin Game which is sort of like Name That Tune but for movies.
Why I love it: Doug Benson is eminently likable as are most, if not all, of the comedians he has on – most of them are close friends of his and it shows in the easy rapport between them. The panelists are always funny and the podcast is always good for a laugh. The games are fun to play along with at home, especially the Leonard Maltin game which is actually pretty difficult!
The premise: Alex Robinson, Pete the Retailer, and various guests watch and discuss the Star Wars movies one minute at a time.
Why I love it: These guys know their Star Wars. Besides a lot of funny moments (I think I laughed hardest at the episodes around Yoda’s home and the “evil cave” that he sends Luke into), I’ve learned an awful lot about minor Star Wars characters. Also the hosts and their guests are very likable (this is a very important part of podcasts to me) and it’s interesting to find out how Star Wars affected them growing up.
The premise: Chris Hardwick, accompanied sometimes by Jonah Ray and Matt Mira talk to comedians, musicians, and actors.
Why I love it: Two words. Chris. Hardwick. He is probably the most thoughtful interviewer I’ve ever heard. And the podcasts are less interviews and more conversations. He has really interesting and honest chats with the guests he has on and almost every single time it comes across as two friends just having a chat, no matter if his guest is someone that he’s been friends with for a long time or someone he’s just met. He seems to put everyone almost immediately at ease and isn’t afraid to share things about himself or his life – he definitely keeps up his part of the conversation which I really enjoy. The podcast also hosts tremendously interesting people – there are a LOT of podcasts (I came to this quite late) and whenever I scroll through the feed to choose one to listen to, I inevitably have a hard time choosing which one to listen to first! Doug Benson, Mira Sorvino, Jim Gaffigan, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Spoon, Charlie Day, Joel Hodgson, and Jeff Bridges are just a few of the incredibly diverse guests that have been on Nerdist. Highly, highly recommended!
The premise: Comedians Doug Benson and Karen Anderson invite a guest, usually a fellow comedian, to chat with them while being served food made by a professional chef
Why I love it: Doug Benson, various comedians that often have also been guests on Doug Loves Movies, and food? What’s not to love?!
The premise: Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas, and June Diane Raphael watch a terrible movie and talk about how terrible it really is.
Why I love it: I like Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukas from The League (Andre and Raffi, respectively) and June Diane Raphael (Paul Scheer’s wife) is very funny also. The movies that they watch are laughably bad on their own, but listening to Paul, Jason, and Diane talk about the horror of watching it and what could possibly have been going through the minds of the people making the movie makes it one hilarious podcast. Start with Birdemic: Shock and Terror and go from there!
Note: When I listened to the Fast Five episode (I think it was the Fast Five one – one of the Fast and the Furious ones, at lest), there was a throwaway line from Jason Mantzoukas that made me laugh so hard – I was sitting on the couch with Drew, started laughing, had to get up to use the restroom, and continued laughing hysterically in the bathroom. “Must. Murder. With. Wrench.”
The premise: A panel of comedians and NPR regulars compete in a contest about the week’s news stories.
Why I like it: It’s funny and it makes me feel smart to listen to anything from NPR. Also, along with The Daily Show this is basically the only way I can tolerate paying attention to the news.
The premise: Alton Brown interviews various people (some chefs, some not).
Why I like it: I’ve always been a fan of Alton Brown from his shows on the Food Network and it turns out he, like Chris Hardwick, also has a knack for very thoughtful interviews. He actually made me (grudgingly) like Alex Guarnaschelli, which is saying a lot!
The premise: How Did This Get Made? but for books.
Why I like it: Did you read the premise? Have you met me? Then you know why I like it. Start with Covert Conception with Mara Wilson and go from there. I don’t necessarily like the fact that they didn’t like Ready, Player One which I did like (more on that in a later post), but it’s still a funny show.
The premise: Radio broadcasts from the local station in Night Vale where bizarre goings-on are the norm.
Why I like it: I’ll be honest with you and admit that I’ve only listened to the first ten or so and that I need to go back and start over at the beginning – unlike all the other podcasts on this list, this one calls for complete attention and when I’m driving, I tend to end up missing things (in the podcast, not on the road, don’t worry), so I need to just take the time to listen to it without trying to multitask at the same time. But it’s surreal and drily funny and has a huge internet following.