Sunday, 5 May 2019

Podcastin'

Hey hey, just a quick interim/recommendations post.

With the exception of a few music- or movie-related ones, I came to podcasts pretty late. For reasons I find difficult to explain, I found them really pretentious. I mean, can barely get through the pilot episode of a TV show or the first 20 minutes of a film unless I really like it, so why the hell would I dedicate up to an hour listening to strangers who deemed themselves funny and interesting enough to broadcast themselves across the world in a thing that nobody asked for? I guess you could say the same about a blog, but I have reasons for keeping one that are independent of whether anybody actually regularly reads it.

Yes, podcasts have become a bit of a cliché, but there are some good ones out there. You will probably find them by accident. I think the best thing that can be said for them is that it feels like you're having social time but not actually having to go out or be social.

And the good thing about podcasts is that there is at least one for literally everything, for every mood; whether I need to be comforted and healed, informed or entertained.

So, here are five podcasts I've been into since the start of the year...


My Dad Wrote a Porno

'The following podcast contains adult themes, sexual content, and strong language; basically, all the good stuff.'

That's how each episode opens, but wow, how do I begin to explain it? Once upon a time, a retired man assumed the pseudonym Rocky Flintstone and wrote an erotic novel. He was gracious enough to let his son read it out on air in front of his best mates. I will just say that I started listening to this at a lonely time in my life and it got me through long days. Yes, I even began to feel like Alice, James, and Jamie were my friends.

Many fans will disadvise listening to MDWAP in public due to elevated risk of death by laughter, but I was bold enough to listen to it on my half-hour commutes (conveniently the same length as the average episode). Sometimes I sniggered so loudly that I then had to fake a coughing fit, but then again, there are enough weirdos on Berlin transport for it not to really matter. Otherwise, the content was sometimes so depraved, or Rocky Flintstone's knowledge of the location of the cervix was so misguided, that I was just doing this:



The podcast has gained popularity all around the world (the trio have done live shows across the Anglo-Saxon countries and Europe), but something about it feels really British to me, or at least nostalgic. If you live abroad, you tend not to take mundane references to stuff you grew up with for granted. For that reason, I probably wouldn't have felt this exact way if I wasn't living in a different country, dealing with a different language and humour and character every day of my life, thus making stuff like this a kind of reprieve. Listening to MDWAP felt like switching off the world around me and returning to a fantastical one... where breasts hang like pomegranates.


Why Won't You Date Me?

When I first heard about this podcast, I skipped straight to the episode with Rachel Bloom (star and co-creator of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, one of the best TV shows evaaah). It was a match made in heaven. At the time of writing this, I've only listened to about eight episodes, but I am hooked. It cheers me up without fail and just allows me to, like, not take myself too seriously. If I knew her IRL I would probably find her A Bit Much, but the outrageous, unapologetic way in which Nicole Byer talks about her comedy career, her body, and her sex life is radical and a total inspiration for self-love.

The other really great thing about this podcast is that since Nicole and the guest are dissecting her past hookups or relationships, I inevitably find myself analysing where things went "wrong" in my own situations... and finding comfort and validation in the high probability that, in retrospect, it wasn't me! It was the other person! So it ends up being an inadvertent therapy session with lots to chew on. Humans contain multitudes!


Ab 21

A highly accessible weekly German podcast dealing with pertinent millennial issues, like... I don't know... social anxiety, OCD, using du or Sie at work, FOMO, schadenfreude (obvs), and getting cosmetic surgery to look like the Instagram filter version of your face. They interview experts and civilians alike. The language tends to be pretty informal and straightforward, so if you want to improve your everyday German comprehension skills, I can wholeheartedly recommend it.


Unfuck Your Brain

I'm a smart feminist woman who struggles with anxiety and insecurity, therefore I fall into the exact target audience for Kara Loewentheil's podcast. Through the lens of being a women's rights lawyer, with genuine psychology thrown in for good measure, she gives us advice about getting over professional self-doubt, dealing with intrusive emotions and thoughts, and generally being your best self. Again, this is pretty much as good as a therapy sesh.


Recovering Workaholics

This is another career-related podcast that is what I've needed the past few years. I do a few different things to make my living, so I often get really angsty and overwhelmed wondering: What is a good work/life balance if I want to succeed but also not lose my mind? Do I really need to specialise in one thing? It can be really hard finding people who truly get it — basically everyone I know has a full-time job, I can count my freelance friends on one hand — so this is reassuring, gives good advice, etc.