“From ‘Boy’ to ‘Boots’—get on your boots that is.*
– Adam Scott Aukerman at the beginning of every U Talkin’ U2 to Me? podcast
2014 was the year of the rise of the podcasts. It had been a long time coming—in our increasingly digital world, podcasts have gone from an obscure medium to an accepted one, and they are now a serious format for distribution. Not too long ago, I was driving somewhere and listening to NPR during a pledge drive and the host said, “Now, I know many of you wait anxiously by your radios on Sundays for your favorite show to play, whether it is This American Life, Car Talk, or Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me.” And all I could think was, “No…nobody has ever waited next to their radio for an NPR show to come on. Not once has that ever happened. We literally all download it or stream it from the internet whenever we want to. I have never listened to This American Life on the radio except by accident.”
Which brings me back to podcasts. I call 2014 the rise of podcasts because I believe this is the year that people finally understood what that word meant and took notice.
By a show of hands—who listened to Serial?
Follow up—even if you didn’t listen to it, who at least has an idea of what Serial is?
In the imaginary world where people respond to prompts on the internet, I guarantee you ninety percent of everyone under thirty raised their hands. With just twelve episodes, Serial became the most downloaded podcast of all time. People were hooked on the story of Adnan, Hae, and Jay as told by Sarah Koenig. And while I would love to devote a whole post to Serial and just how shady Jay is and how Adnan needed a better attorney—that is not the point of my post. (And Andrew already has.)
The point of my post is to talk about how podcasts can 1) be about literally anything, and 2) still be captivating and entertaining.
U Talkin’ U2 to Me?
The first episode of this podcast debuted on Feb. 16, 2014. It is helmed by Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) and Scott Aukerman (Mr. Show, Comedy Bang Bang), collectively known as The Scotts. It has been heralded (by the hosts) as “the comprehensive and encyclopedic compendium of all things U2.”
Seriously though—it is a podcast by friends Adam Scott and Scott Aukerman, both U2 super fans. They try to go track by track on each of U2’s albums, but they get distracted by witty/caustic banter, endless callbacks to gags, and an unending rabbit trail of sub-podcasts that they host within their main podcast. I hated U2 going in, but I gave this podcast a shot, and I now sort of enjoy U2.
If you find dry, deconstructive, post-modern ironic comedy (or just two guys riffing endlessly off one another) hilarious, this is the podcast for you.
Worst Idea of All Time Podcast
There is nothing more soul numbing than watching a terrible movie; one that is so bad that it isn’t even funny—it is just painful. Imagine doing that once a week for a year.
Well, that’s what two New Zealand comedians have been doing for nearly a year. Now forty-five weeks in, Tim Batt and Guy Montgomery have been watching the critically panned Grown Ups 2 every week and then recording twenty-two minutes of thoughts about their viewing.
Listening to this podcast is basically a mirror into someone’s long term isolation cell. Their emotions range from jubilant for the first few episodes, then they sink into a deep melancholy for a stretch, then bounce back to a determination, and then into Lord knows what.
I thought that a weekly podcast about the same movie would bore me to tears…but it hasn’t. They keep finding new things to talk about each week. It is consistently funny (if sad because they are locked in a cycle of watching a terrible movie for so long).
Both the aforementioned podcasts have ridiculous premises. But both are entertaining, and (seemingly) critical darlings and popular hits. The AV Club dotes on U Talkin’ U2 to Me. The comment section of articles that have nothing to do with U Talkin’ or any podcast regularly feature long threads invoking The Scotts’ absurdist humor and running gags.
As for The Worst Idea, they recently had an interview with Vice, which was then picked up by other news sites, which in turn forced them to say, “Well this is unexpected.”
* “Boy” being U2’s first album, “Boots” referring to the track “Get On Your Boots” from U2’s album No Line on the Horizon, thus showing the Scott’s are going to cover U2’s history from start to finish.
Paul (’10) lives in Grand Rapids with his wife, Emma (’10), and cat, HandsomeMarcoCat. He loves board games, Babylon 5, and honey-curry chicken. Everything else is negotiable.