Do people yawn a lot when you talk to them? This is because you are a boring person and people are tired of hearing about your stupid sports blog. Here’s what we suggest: Subscribe to the six podcasts listed below and you will be an interesting, well-rounded person who will not make people stab themselves in the neck with a fork just to avoid having to talk to you.
I listen to podcasts while I bike to and from work, and this is the one most likely to make people think I’m a crazy person because I’m laughing out loud as I pass them. The Bugle (“Audio Newspaper for a Visual World”) features political satire and mildly off-color language in British accents from John Oliver (of The Daily Show fame) and comedian/cricket aficionado Andy Saltzman. Regular segments include “Fuckeulogies” (tributes to deceased dictators or other bad guys), minutes-long pun runs from Andy, and “Straight in the Bin” (the part of the newspaper you normally throw away).
The Dan Patrick Show
I was surprised when I realized that only one sports-specific podcast made this list. The sports radio market is more saturated than Tony Siragusa’s undershirt at a September football game in Miami (note to self: work on metaphors), but for the the general-interest sports fan, Dan Patrick and his misfit sidekicks, the Danettes, stand out. As a podcast of his entire daily show, The Dan Patrick Show beats out other sports podcasts that are excerpts that often leave out the best parts of the live show (Mike and Mike, Colin Cowherd), or that are too specific to one city (Bill Simmons), or that are posted a full 24 hours after airing (Tony Kornheiser). The running subtext of Dan Patrick’s disdain for his former employer, ESPN, makes it all the more entertaining.
Until recently, this spot on the list would have belonged to This American Life (which I still listen to). RadioLab has a similar approach, addressing a theme or topic on a weekly show, but it does so with a unique, mesmerizing production style. Every time I introduce a friend to RadioLab, the response is similar: “Holy crap, how did I not already know about this?” One of the first RadioLab shows I listened to was called “Patient Zero,” and featured stories about where AIDS came from (and how we might prevent similar diseases in the future) and the origin of the high five. Another show used a full chorus of singers to illustrate how the mantis shrimp perceives color. Seriously, if you don’t already, go subscribe to this podcast.
Judge John Hodgman
This podcast makes the list on its own merits, but it doesn’t hurt that John Hodgman once wrote about our world-famous helmet sundae collection on the pages of The New York Times Magazine. Comedian, author, and actor John Hodgman rules on disputes submitted to him by listeners. The format is really just a vehicle for John Hodgman, who is smart and funny and has a mustache, to interact with knuckleheads over trivial subjects like how (or whether) two brothers should handle a bat infestation in their rundown house or how a husband should sort his roller derby wife’s laundry.
Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me
On the face of it, the idea of a weekly news quiz on NPR does not exactly sound like it’s going to be a laugh-a-minute romp. But with a rotating slate of celebrity contestants like comedians Mo Rocca and Paula Poundstone, former Colbert Report writer Peter Grosz, and author PJ O’Rourke, it’s one of my favorite ways to keep up with current events and odd tidbits pulled from the back pages of the tabloids. Host Peter Sagal is clearly knowledgeable about sports, and is a self-identified Red Sox fan, which makes it all the funnier when his sports-related jokes land with a thud on live audiences made up of NPR listeners. Sports fans will also enjoy the competition aspect of the show, where points are awarded seemingly at random throughout the show, and a winner is announced at the end.
WTF with Marc Maron
The format here is simple: Comedian Marc Maron interviews other comedians in his garage. It sounds low-rent, until you see the list of guests he has featured in the past, from Chris Rock and Conan O’Brien to Louis CK and Sarah Silverman. Even when you are not familiar with the guest, the conversation is almost always interesting enough to keep you engaged for the full hour (and change). Occasionally, the show slips into insider jargon (“You knew Jim at the Comedy Club in Chicago? Yeah, he sure was fat. How about Teddy? Oh, yeah, who could forget Teddy?” etc.), but interviews can delve into religion, family trauma, and deeply personal issues. (Comedian Todd Glass came out of the closet on the show in January.)
Well, there you go. Now you’ll have something to talk about besides asking people to go like your stupid blog’s stupid Facebook page.