This and other gems are what one will hear when delving into the digital medium of podcasts. Alec Baldwin elegantly articulated the line above during a conversation with David Letterman, and it made me giggle out loud, much to the amusement/alarm of my fellow subway riders. These days I have a dreadful commute from Brooklyn to a production company in Newark, and there are only so many New Yorker magazines that one can read while navigating three separate trains over the course of an hour and a half each way (while barefoot in the snow uphill? No? Well, it’s almost that bad). To make the trip more bearable, I’ve started loading podcasts onto my smart phone, and now the ride is actually enjoyable.
Already a fan of NPR, the first podcasts I downloaded were RadioLab and Studio 360, shows that I already listened to at home on the radio. And then I discovered Here’s the Thing, Alec Baldwin’s lively exchange with friends and colleagues mostly about life in the entertainment business. He talks as much as he listens, and that’s the distinction: a podcast is not always an interview; it’s often a conversation. From silly duets with Billy Joel, to the sultry diction of Kathleen Turner, Alec Baldwin masterfully conducts the repartee. However, I never expected to be as moved as I was by his talk with Jerry Seinfeld. What do I have in common with Jerry Seinfeld? Probably mostly nothing. And yet, there he was dropping knowledge about career (with nothing left to prove in TV, he prefers doing stand up), relationships (because he was so focused on work, he didn’t get married until he was 45) and how to find balance in this crazy business. By the way, he stays centered by meditating. Jerry Seinfeld. Meditating. Who knew? And tell me more!
Another great podcast series is Nerdist created and hosted by Chris Hardwick. I had the pleasure of working with Chris last year in Atlanta on the set of The Walking Dead. I directed some of the behind-the-scenes pieces for his show, The Talking Dead and soon learned what an adept interviewer Chris is. That should have propelled me to listen to his podcast, but what can I say, I was green! I didn’t know! Now with this commute, I’m actually glad to be late to the podcast party. I have to hand it to Chris Hardwick – he’s done 400+ shows, and he is always engaged, always fresh and always self-depricating. The gateway guest to the Nerdist podcast has to be Tom Hanks, who really is as nice as you’d imagine. Another favorite was a talk with Dave Grohl who explained why he hates hipsters and his theory of why there’s no room for irony in the creative process. Equally entertaining is hearing Chris turn into a total fan boy with comedy legend Lily Tomlin as she describes the inspiration for some of her classic characters and what it was like to be a female comedian in the 70s.
So stop reading this now so you can check out some of these great conversations and laugh out loud with strangers at totally inappropriate times. I know I’m late to the party, and I’d love to hear your recommendations.