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Podcast People

Coming to the trendy things fashionably late, I have been listening to lot of podcasts recently. And I thought I’d chat about some of them.

It started with Smodcast – the fairly regular podcast from Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier (hence the name), who chat about … stuff. It started out as a way for two old friends to spend an hour together and talk about whatever was on their minds at the time. Working in film and living in LA, this could be an interesting insider look at the biz as well as their own bizarre experiences.

However, the constant need to chat does allow some strange stuff to come out. For example, a recent one (number 43) is really dull and annoying, as the two of them ramble on about the concept of children in The Matrix, where you just wish they would shut the hell up. They also display their ignorance about things (Smith more than Mosier) – the infamous episode 15 where they talk about Helen Keller for nearly an hour without actually knowing very much about her. They’ve now taken to having the internet for looking things up on Wikipedia (they’ve also taken to reading from books, such as General Ignorance from the BBC television programme QI, or reading out the film synopsis for Conan The Barbarian, because at least they can’t get that wrong).

Smith is the constant, but he also does them with other people when Mosier is not available. The ones with his wife (episodes 20, 22, 23) show Smith is seriously insecure about his relationship with Jennifer, and that she is a sensible and intelligent woman. Number 34 is a fascinating chat with old friends Walt Flannagan and Bryan Johnson about their youth in Jersey, which is a wonderful reminiscence about their time together, even though it doesn’t mean anything to people outside their sphere of existence. Another fascinating chat between the three is in the next episode, 35, where Johnson talks about his experiences with mental health issues.

In number 29, Smith berates and laughs at Mosier because Mosier reads the Harry Potter stories – this from a man who reads comics and therefore knows the flak a fan of a maligned medium can endure. Smith then badgers Mosier to tell him all the details from the final Harry Potter novel, all the time calling Mosier gay for Potter. Mosier is at least well-rounded human being who reads books with no pictures and wants to travel and expand his horizons. Smith doesn’t want to do anything or go anywhere and has therefore lost any sense of superiority in life – in fact, I’m amazed he is still alive based on the ‘junk food and no vegetables’ mantra that makes up his nutritional intake. Bear in mind, I’m a big fan of Smith and his movies.

Smith and Mosier are at the amateur end of the scale – Smith is a great raconteur on his Q&As, but they are not radio, which the podcast medium essentially is. Therefore, I cleanse the podcast palette with ‘podcasts’ from people who entertain people by talking for a living. The Adam and Joe Show on BBC 6 is an edited version of their radio broadcast (copyright rules mean they can’t play the music), which works fine for me and allows them to highlight their quirky sense of humour and playful banter.

Andrew Collins used to have a show on BBC 6 as well, but he now does a podcast with the comedian Richard Herring (they used to do a Sunday show together when he was still broadcasting) that is fairly new to the scene but is an interesting mix of Collins’ preparation and wide-read background mixed with Herring’s background in stand-up and television quick wit.

Stephen Fry [EDIT: link no longer exists], a lover of radio and someone who had his own radio show (Saturday Night Fry) some time ago, is another new player in the field but who sounds like he has been doing it for years (even though his first podcast was done under the influence of many drugs for the pain of his broken arm, which happened during filming of a television show in South America for the BBC).

I have listened to a selection of other things (the Bispectacult podcast with Mike Sterling [EDIT: link no longer exists], a Rotten Tomatoes UK interview with Neil Gaiman about Stardust, a Q&A with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright about Hot Fuzz for Creative Screenwriting magazine) that I wouldn’t have even heard about before, and enjoyed the ‘radio on demand’ nature of the podcast (if that is a completely accurate description). But I’m always on the look out for more – does anyone have suggestions for interesting things to listen to?

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