Podcasting Pandemonium

First things first, I like to rant or write about things I have newly acquired a taste of. Namely, inappropriate British slurs (often disguised as ‘gallows humour’), House of Cards-induced political commentaries (often misplaced and overused) and jazz music. I wrote about jazz long ago having listened to just three songs of the type. A mandatory viewing of Whiplash followed soon.

However, I shall aim at substance as podcasts join the aforementioned elite list. With an increasing propensity of always having a form of entertainment handy and easily accessible, it isn’t surprising how the only other time when the phone’s down is when we have a bigger screen in front of us. On my mother’s nagging, when I did try to fit in a jog or a lazy walk in order to keep fit, some company had to be found. How could you get the same quality of content without a screen in front of you? Podcasts.

With a similar dose of entertainment condensed into audios, podcasts seemed to be it. A welcome respite. Podcasts are all over the place these days. Anyone can have their own podcast. There’s one about anything and everything under the sun. Heck, there’s one about podcasts too.

The trend is catching up in India albeit slowly. There could be a myriad reasons for that. Music often helps dampen the cruelly loud background clamour whereas podcasts don’t always. I can’t multitask while listening to them since they require attention. Given my short attention span, lengthy podcasts often have me zoned out after a while. It also seems to be the human tendency to chip in with opinions or questions in any discussion.

Now the question, who should listen to podcasts? Well…anybody who has an opinion, wants to shape their opinion or simply explore opinions. Podcasts got to me for the idiosyncratic introvert I am. It’s for those, like me, who sometimes prefer to stay away from human presence and interaction yet cannot fully do away with someone whispering to you. You can also shut the digital whisperers up anytime unlike inveterate talkers around you.

Be it as it may, the variety, ease of access and the quality of the content outweigh the demerits with one voice. There’s been a few that got me started revolving around cricket, comedy and an excess of hard-hitting language.

Incidentally, British comedian and actor, Stephen Fry combined all of it in the first podcast I ever tried; Co-hosting Broad and Fry : Corridor of Uncertainty with England fast bowler Stuart Broad, the two recollect interesting stories, facts and experiences from the sport and lend a unique spin to how the game is viewed. Broad, a veteran of the game and an active player, gives accounts from the current English set-up and talks about the various on-field shenanigans that largely go unreported.

These days I can be found in a crowded train (not as pleasant a premise a podcast aims to create) listening to Mr. Fry’s Seven Deadly Sins. As biblical as it sounds, it isn’t. It does get philosophical when he scrutinises a septet of deadly sins, which he describes as banana skins that act as impediments or stumbling blocks to one’s happiness.

Fry is not only a comedic genius but also a masterful storyteller who weaves the yarn like no other. He grips you with witty anecdotes, funny nuances and profoundly wry & relatable analogies. I am convinced that he would make for a perfect dinner guest who you’d let take hold over the after-dinner conversation completely. However, his vocabulary and phrases can be hard on the ears of the uninitiated. If anything, it’s an acquired taste.  

Good One: A Podcast About Jokes has host Jesse David Fox interviewing comedians and humorists in any capacity about their journey, their acts and more importantly, scaling the journey of how their jokes are written. High profile names appear regularly, namely Jerry Seinfeld, Nikki Glasser, Tig Notaro, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, John Mulaney among many others.

Unfortunately, you aren’t the one having warm conversations with a host sipping a brew but, perhaps, there’s equal warmth in just being a listener whose countenance breaks into a wry smile periodically. Having been on three cricketing podcasts, I haven’t quite nailed how to modulate my voice well. There have been learnings surely; stay calm, speak clearly, do not interrupt the speaker and do not be too loud. The only reason why I was loud was to reach to those travelling in trains, battling hard to keep them entertained amidst mad clamour.

Our Editorial head, Yash Soni, is a man of quality taste and has liberally showered upon me a plethora of suggestions which I shall duly oblige and hopefully shall find something to pen down from my experiences because if podcasts have taught me something, it’s that everyone has a story to tell.