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Podcasts I Listen To 2020

I was reading an article by Miranda Sawyer about podcasts, detailing some of the history (such as Apple adding a podcast app to their iPhones in 2005, which was the same year that the word ‘podcast’ was added to the dictionary), and it got me thinking about my podcast history and what podcasts I subscribe to and listen to on a regular basis.

I didn’t (and don’t) have an iPhone, but I did get into podcasts fairly early – I even have evidence of it in a blog post from early 2008, talking about listening to Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier Smodcast, the Adam & Joe Show podcast and the Collings and Herrin podcast. I didn’t have a smartphone then, so I would download them onto my computer from an RSS feed and transfer them to my listening device, which makes it sound like ancient history.

I talked about some other podcasts during my busy blogging year of 2010 – House to Astonish in this post and War Rocket Ajax in this post – as well as others I was listening to, so it seemed a good idea that I should return to the topic 10 years later, especially during these unprecedented times.

Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review

The longest running podcast on my subscription feed, Kermode and Mayo’s Film review is the radio show without the news bits plus some extra waffle recorded for the podcast. It’s a source of regular comfort, listening to two middle-aged men witter away (hence Wittertainment) about stuff, with some film reviews from Mark Kermode and hosting duties from Simon Mayo, who keeps Kermode on brief. There are in-jokes (compiled at a fan wiki, Witterpedia) – hello to Jason Isaacs – and regular slots that make this a weekly balm for the soul, especially now during the pandemic, where the show has transitioned to them recording separately from their homes and talking about films despite cinemas being closed. I’ve been enjoying this since discovering podcasts (so around 2008, although I didn’t mention it specifically), so I’m an LTL (long-time listener) and will continue to be for as long as they stick around.

The Empire Film Podcast

The other main film podcast, the Empire Film Podcast started in 2012, and I’ve been with it since the start (I talk about my love for Empire in this post about my time doing a week’s work experience at the magazine). The podcast has had various members of the Empire staff appear, but the main three are host Chris Hewitt, Helen O’Hara and James Dyer – they were all working at Empire when I was there, so that adds to the affection I have for the podcast. They talk about film news, answer listeners’ questions, interview guests and do film reviews, but it’s mainly the joy of listening to people who love film nattering about movies, making silly jokes and the dynamic between work colleagues who are also friends.

House To Astonish

I’m still listening to my favourite podcast about comic books, House to Astonish, with Scottish lawyers Al Kennedy and Paul O’Brien. Another podcast that I’ve been with since the beginning, the show hasn’t changed in format: comic book news, reviews of a couple of new books, and the Official Handbook to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. The only thing that has changed is that the podcast is less frequent – understandable as the pair have become fathers; otherwise, it’s the same excellent level of two intelligent comic book fans discussing and dissecting the industry and some books.

Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast

Richard Herring is considered the godfather of comedy podcasts solely due to the fact that he’s been doing it so long (the Collings and Herring podcast started in 2008), and his interview podcast (named after the location where he records them) has become a mainstay of the comedy podcasting world because of the various comedy people he has chatted with over the years. The live nature is a double bonus: it means that the comedy people feel more natural in a performance zone, and it provides a financial resource to pay for the podcast (Herring resisted sponsoring and advertising for a long while because of this). Herring isn’t perhaps the greatest interviewer, but his offbeat approach, including his ridiculous emergency questions, and the fact that he gets a wide variety of performer than anyone else who has copied his podcasting concept mean that this is a constantly reliable and interesting podcast. It’s the comedy podcast that I’ve been with since the beginning (I even went to the Stephen Fry show that got in the news), and it continues to be an extremely enjoyable and horizon-widening experience.

The Adam Buxton Podcast

Hmm, this seems to be a theme – following certain podcasters from the beginnings. While his comedy wife Joe Cornish has gone to Hollywood, Adam Buxton has stayed in the UK trying to find the correct outlet for his particular brand of nonsense. With his own podcast since 2015, it appears that he has found the right format, as he can do the great jingles (including for the sponsored content, which he makes entertaining to listen to instead of dryly reading ‘approved’ material), waffle as he takes his dog for a walk, and interview a variety of guests. It’s all utterly charming, and it’s great to have a regular dose of something similar to The Adam & Joe Show, because radioland is where he can shine.

The Comedian’s Comedian Podcast

I can’t recall where I first heard about Stuart Goldsmith’s podcast – possibly via Richard Herring’s podcast – but I jumped in hard. The podcast is specifically a discussion about the craft of stand-up comedy, how the comedian works to create the routines and their influences (Goldsmith was starting a stand-up career after being a street performer for many years, and wanted to find out everything he could from the people who knew best). It’s still a fun listen but it’s also more serious because it’s about the serious aspect of the craft, so it’s incredibly insightful and informative if you love comedy.

Rule of Three

Whereas Comedian’s Comedian is serious with some laughs, Rule of Three is an absolute delight while still being incredibly informative. Each episode sees hosts Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley, long-standing comedy writing partner who’ve worked with tonnes of people, invite a guest who works in comedy onto the show to talk about a funny thing they love, in order to find out how it works or just quote bits and giggle (as they explain in the intro). It’s a recent entry, starting in May 2018, but it’s fast become a great podcast, with some wonderful people talking passionately about comedy things they (and we) love, plus you learn about how comedy works. It’s a brilliant podcast.

Films To Be Buried With

Combining comedic and cinematic, thus hitting my sweet spot, Films To Be Buried With is a podcast from comedian/actor/writer (and director/star of Superbob) Brett Goldstein that is basically Desert Island Discs but for movies. He tells his guests (mostly comedians from his days on the circuit) that they have died and are in heaven, and everyone wants to know about their cinematic history (their first movie, the one that they’ve watched the most, the funniest, etc.), which inadvertently reveals more about themselves than they might realise. It’s a great concept with great guests, and another recent entry (August 2018) that has made it quickly onto the must-listen list.

This Had Oscar Buzz

A film podcast with a specific purpose: to discuss a specific film that initially had some Academy Award potential but which disappeared when it arrived in cinemas. The two hosts, Joe and Chris, are professional film journalists with a love of film awards and talking about films that didn’t quite work, despite the people involved. It’s not a simple slagging off (such as the How Did This Get Made? podcast) but a thoughtful discussion about the films and the context within which they existed at the time.

And that’s my current podcast subscriptions; I have dipped into others along the way (such as Smersh Pod, where various comedy and/or film people would discuss the Bond films) but I’ve avoided most of the big names (e.g. Serial). I love comic books, comedy and cinema – there are plenty of podcasts to fulfil those passions.

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