Dan and Kelly tell writerly origin stories and offer tepid advice.
Maybe you can help me out. My small corral of podcast subscriptions can't keep up with my post NYE, pre-going-back-to-work gym routine, so I'm in the market for some new stuff. Yesterday I looked at a "best of" list of podcasts online, and chose two promising ones. The first was WTF with Marc Maron, a comedian. I like to laugh so I went into it with high hopes. Jesus Christ, who is this guy? I had to stop mid-run and turn him off he irritated me so much. No offense to his 4 million listeners, but his brand of person-ness is not for me. Listening to him felt like being trapped in an elevator with a guy chosen "class clown" in his ninth grade yearbook and had, just before entering the elevator, just done two fat rails of crystal meth. Dude, chill out. Take a breath. It'll all be okay.
Then I turned so someone whose name I can't remember but whose podcast is about panning bad movies. I love mean reviews of movies that deserve it. Anyone with half a wit can wring comedy out of that material, but not this guy, at least during the several minutes I gave him. There's a fine but important line between being funny and trying (desperatly) to be funny. Listening, I felt like visiting acquaintances whose large, enthusiastic, friendly, and smelly dog won't quit jumping into my lap and licking my face with its terrible breath, all while its owners stand by smiling at my misery, as in, "ain't he cute?" No, he ain't. And stop shouting at me! Please. Come on, man. You're okay. You don't have to try so hard. People like you for you (unless you're really the way you sound on your podcast, in which case I can't help you).
This is all to say that I prefer mellower podcast hosts.
I should also say I'm not a fan of the super-produced NPR style podcast. The Sporkful? No thanks. (Sorry Adam.) I find it dull, saccharine, bogged down by unnecessary cuts and sound effects. What are you hiding there behind all that technique? You are hiding that you have nothing interesting to say.
My favorite podcaster is Dan Carlin. I'd even pay to listen to him if he put out an episode more than once every several months. He's been podcasting since 2005, so I guess he's kind of tired of it. Too bad. I also like the Stuff You Should Know guys okay. I'm never excited about their new episode (two per week), but I find them a solid backup plan. The funny fellows at Worst Idea of All Time are definitely my speed, but man doesn't live on bread alone (there must also be a beverage, as Woody Allen once wrote).
I don't think I'm hard to please. I just want something like the interesting, occasionally witty conversations I have with my drinking buddies. In fact, I listen to podcast simply to recreate the feeling of friendship while I'm sweating on a treadmill. And while my friends are smart and funny, they aren't exceptional, nor am I. We're regular people who can talk about something that interests us without our faces turning read or veins popping out of our foreheads. We don't require elaborate sound engineering to make ourselves understood. Is that too much to ask?
Recommendations most welcome.