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so you ran out of This American Life, vol. 2

Nine months ago, I fell down the well of Obsessive Podcast Listening. I don’t know if this is necessary correlative, but you know what? I’ve been a happier person these last nine month, and one place I get a lot of daily happiness is picking a good podcast to keep me company. I can’t quite explain what makes podcasts so wonderful, but I suspect its something about the intimacy of audio, the candid interviews, the uncensored-ness of alt-media.

When I was younger, my parents were Howard Stern fans, which I thought was bizarre, since he was rude, inappropriate, and ridiculously misogynistic.

Now I think I get it.

I shared some of my favorites back in March, but I’ve found many more podcasts to love since then. Again, I shall give all due credit to Ashley over at Writing to Reach You. She is my Patron Saint of Podcast. You can find some of her recommendations here and here.

In my last list, I was like “eh, Marc Maron.” Oh, how quickly the tides turn. I remember very distinctly some time last spring, listening to the opening monologue to Mindly Kaling episode while jogging around my school’s tiny track and thinking “Man, I wish this guy would shut up so I can get to the good part.” Now, I regularly think “Man, I wish that Marc Maron wouldn’t even have guests and would just talk to himself for a full hour.” I am a WTF with Marc Maron convert.

For the uninitiated, Marc Maron is a comedian who started performing in the 80s and 90s, but never saw particular commercial success. But what does that even mean for comedians? A half hour special on Comedy Central? A role on SNL? Who knows, but if this question is at all interesting to you, then you might like this podcast. Maron interviews comedians, musicians, and other celebrities, talking about their childhoods, their careers, and their other struggles. Conversations vary in tone and topic, but are fairly consistently engaging. Just do it.

Elizabeth and Andy Laime have another podcast, Totally Laime, that is more of the traditional “interviewing cool people” format. I listened to a few episodes, but couldn’t get into it… however, I may have to reconsider because I love-love-love their spin-off podcast, Totally Married. Elizabeth and Andy are married (duh) and in this podcast, they talk about their lives, their relationship, their past relationships, and answer relationship advice questions from listeners. I am indifferent about the advice portion, but damn if Elizabeth and Andy aren’t just terribly charming. I am obsessed with all things marriage, but I feel like much marriage-related media is focused on traditional family structures, gender roles, and expectations. Totally Married is like a peep-hole directly into the marriage of two young, creative types, which I find much more relevant and interesting.

On the JV Club, Janet Varney invites female actors, comedians, musicians, bloggers, and other media-makers, to come to her house and talk about their teenage years. I love how quickly these stories become passionate and involved – whether they are tales of great childhoods or troubled teenage-doms, there is something so intense about a teen girlhood… the story of your teen years is a powerful one.

See also: my YA obsession. Those who write for teens might find this podcast an inspiring way to remember the specificity of those complex teen stories and emotions.

Speaking of YA, Sara Zarr is a well-known, well-awarded YA author who has started a podcast of her own. This Creative Life is nothing unexpected – Sara chats with authors of all sorts (not just YA) about their writing process, how they feel about their careers, what kinds of things they value in their own creative journeys. The kind of stuff that writers and writer-wannabes love to hear about, even though they should know well enough that there’s not some “secret” of success that only the published, well-known, well-awarded authors hold. However, what makes this podcast special is that Zarr talks to her guests like they are trusted friends, colleagues, etc, and the conversations sound almost like actual phone conversations between two creative types. I don’t find these podcasts life changing, but I do find the peek into the minds of writers helps me think about my own mind in a similar way.

And now for something entirely different… Doug Loves Movies! Comedian Doug Benson invites comedians and actors to join in many movie-related games in front of a live audience, and records the podcast. The games are silly party games – name that movie, string together movie titles, I can’t really explain this very well so I am going to stop. The “contestants” are sometimes very good and sometimes very bad. But what is most impressive is the star-power that Doug can convince to come play games – if you ever are in the mood for a light, “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” kind of podcast but starring Judd Apatow, Aziz Ansari, or Anna Kendrick, then you might like Doug Loves Movies.


  1. allison says:

    I’ll have to check some of these out. I haven’t been able to get swept away by podcasts… but then again, it’s hard for me to listen to audiobooks because my mind wanders too much. I DID love Stern when he was on free radio though, and have searched off and on for a podcast of him, so maybe these comedian podcasts will tide me over.

  2. Ashley says:

    I like the comparison of Doug Loves Movies to Wait Wait. I strangely have been subscribing and unsubscribing to both for years now. Sometimes they work for me and sometimes they’re too much, I guess. It’s funny, because I recommend a lot of podcasts and I never know which ones are going to click for people. I try to predict, but I’m always wrong! I’m going to check out This Creative Life; I don’t listen to any writing podcasts anymore and I kind of miss them.

  3. Tomissa says:

    I got a shout out on the JV Club the other week. Thanks for the good suggestions. Doug Loves Movies is going to be my new obsession, I feel.

  4. real andy says:

    BABA BOOEY! BABA BOOEY! I’ve started to listen to Howard less, but have become partial to Holli and Michael of the swingers show on Playboy.

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