[Warning: some of these podcasts may contain language inappropriate for younger audiences. Please check the iTunes rating for explicit content.]
After years of maintaining an on-off relationship with podcasts, I decided to give Stuff You Should Know a try last year due to heavy online recommendation. Since then, podcasts have almost completely replaced music as my primary earphone hoggers, accompanying me on all sorts of journeys from work commutes to long runs.
So, as a mini celebration of audio excellence, I’m throwing a little party for all my favourite podcasts. Part One of the Podcast Party! series will look at my confirmed guest list, with all the shows that have become staples in my auto-download list.
For those who want to learn
- Stuff You Should Know (i.e. the top student)
I.e. the one that got me started on this whole shebang. SYSK, as it’s popularly known, is from the Discovery Network of podcasts (several others of which are also interesting but have never captivated me like this) and covers specific topics every episode, with themes running the gamut from extinction to skywriting to parents (?!?).
The show, which lasts about 45 minutes each episode, features two hosts, Josh and Chuck, who have the most natural, conversational way of presenting a podcast I’ve come across. Their witty, occasionally deadpan, banter never feels contrived and they have a knack for not only simplifying complex concepts into easily understandable nuggets but also for making seemingly mundane topics a lot more interesting than they should be. I mean, their episode of Monopoly made me want to go out and get a set right away, despite the fact that it’s one of the most tear-inducing
board bored games I’ve played.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they sound totally different from each other and there’s no chance of confusing the two, a surprisingly common problem with other podcasts.
- Good Job Brain (i.e. president of trivia night) and No Such Thing As A Fish (i.e. the British one)
I’m a huge fan of trivia and these two are just the right combination of interesting factoids with hilarious presenters to warrant auto-download status.
Good Job Brain is a podcast quiz show, where the presenters take turns to grill each other on random topics before expounding on relevant facts. Unlike SYSK, there usually isn’t a particular theme for the whole episode and each presenter will choose their own question topics. The concept of the show (and the fact that the mini quizzes often have different rules and ways of playing from each other) makes for a fun listen and the presenters are a lively, cheerful bunch.
While No Such Thing As A Fish might not have the quiz show format that GJB does – it’s just a straight up trivia show – it more than makes up for it with a set of hilariously deadpan presenters. The trademark British dry humour is out in full force, with them often riffing off each other and delivering delicious quips after each trivia. Plus, they have great chemistry and manage to maintain the rib-cracking conversation without it sounding forced.
For those who just want to laugh
- If I Were You (i.e. the frat bromance)
Hosted by the biggest bromance since Bert and Ernie, If I Were You features Jake and Amir from Collegehumor as agony uncles, dishing out advice to listeners with the most dramatic (yet believable) issues. The way they tackle these questions, often going on hilarious meanders, bringing in their own experiences, and more often than not rapping on each other, makes for great commute chuckles. Plus, the advice is (usually) pretty sound too.
- Not Too Deep by Grace Helbig (i.e. the celebrity)
Grace Helbig, for those not caught up in the zeitgeist, is a comedienne, a vlogger, and most recently a published book author and I’m constantly amazed at her ability to come up with funny quips, and deliver them in the most hilariously droll fashion, in almost any situation. In her podcast, she interviews other famous (mostly Youtube-based) personalities, bombarding them with the weirdest questions before subjecting them to a weird challenge that would be put up on Youtube. While I don’t think the video challenges are particularly fun to watch (or to play, I’d imagine), the podcasts are hilarious. Plus, she has the prettiest podcast voice around.
For those who are, or want to be, into Pokemon
- It’s Super Effective (i.e. the gamer)
Starring a rotating cast of Pokefans, this show’s discussions range from new game spoilers to developments in the anime to card game releases and tournaments, with the occasional movie reference or five.
I didn’t get the show at first. The presenters’ chemistry, while decent, isn’t anywhere near as cohesive as those above, their jokes aren’t as consistent (or funny), there isn’t much new information for those who regularly follow other sites or forums, and the shows often run beyond the one-hour mark.
After repeated listens, though, it finally clicked. I’m not sure what changed (since the show itself sure didn’t, and neither did the aspects I listed in the above paragraph), but I started getting excited listening to them.
True, they usually just ramble on but, be it from their obvious love of the game or from some secret delivery technique I haven’t figured out, I would increasingly itch to try out whatever product they were ranting on about. I mean, their episode on the ORAS release and their first weeks of playthrough made me want to cut my jog short, run straight home and whip out my 3DS.
So that’s it, my favourite podcasts for now. Stay tuned for the next two parts in the series, where we will look at some shows which almost made the guest list.
Dear reader, what do you think of podcasts? If you do listen to them, which ones would you recommend?