About Lauren’s list:
Since this stay-at-home order, I’ve pretty much only felt like listening to podcasts that will make me laugh and help me feel connected to other people. Here are 10 exceptional shows that are bringing me comfort and joy.
Jon Mooallem describes his podcast like this: “listen to me take a walk through the tranquil woodlands around my house in the Pacific Northwest. No talking; just walking. Ambient. Pleasant. Homemade. Unusual.”
One day I received a link to this show from my brother. He offered no explanation. That’s how I’d like to recommend it to you.
Start with: Podcast Edition 1
For reasons I can’t explain or justify I’ve slept on this show while wise friends and romantic partners lost their minds over it. I was totally wrong. Jon Wurster’s calls are pure chaos and joy.
Start with: “YEAH, I’M OUT! JERRY WATKINS! MORE!“
Something for the Art Bell set. Ken Layne makes this radio show from the Mojave Desert in Joshua Tree, California. He’s on the air Friday nights at 10pm, but you can listen as a podcast, too. I like to imagine someone driving around in Joshua Tree randomly tuning in just in time to hear Ken Layne say “When times are strange, shall we gather in the desert? Well that depends. It depends if you’re bringing the invisible friend.”
Start with: The Invisible Friend
Helen Zaltzman’s podcast about language is a never-miss for me, but she’s outdoing herself with a soothing new series she’s calling Tranquillusionist. In one episode, she reads the lyrics to “Imagine” by John Lennon, with the words arranged in reverse alphabetical order. In my favorite episode, she reads the winners of Best In Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Start with: Best in Show
I’m in love with comic Meg Stalter. If you don’t know her work, my favorite way to introduce her is with “Woman Working from Home.” Now she has a podcast and it’s perfectly her.
Start with her debut episode: None of My Guests Showed Up.
One of the first podcasts I ever listened to and it’s still an all-time favorite. Some episodes are fiction, some are reported, sometimes he interviews academics or artists. Once he created his own cryptocurrency. You never know what to expect but there’s something both surreal and laid-back about this show. It’s a real bright spot.
Start with: The Cultural Marxism Industry
One of my heroes, Eleanor McDowall, has a new show “where audio-makers stand silently in fields (or things that could be broadly interpreted as fields).” The show features very, very short ambient recordings sent in by producers all over the world. I’m obsessed with it. Listen to a balcony in Palestine, Rome during lockdown, a lake in Iceland, 42nd Street and 1st Ave. A beautiful show.
Start with: Nighttime, Windellama, Australia
Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes tell us stories that we think we know, but are in fact wrong about (Anna Nicole Smith, DC Sniper, Kitty Genovese). I’ve been following the work of Sarah Marshall since her incredible 2014 essay “Remote Control: Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan, and the Spectacles of Female Power and Pain.” The essay does the same work as this podcast, replacing a caricatured scandal with something much clearer, more challenging, and more human.
Start with: Kitty Genovese and “Bystander Apathy”.
My best friend Ryan recommended this show. He knows a lot more about movies than I do, and I started listening so I could keep up with him. It’s an offshoot of Film Comment Magazine, and drops weekly with various filmmakers and critics talking about specific films and the state of the industry. Now I have a list of movies to watch that I’d never even heard of before listening to this podcast.
Start with: Kelly Reichardt