Blue Sky Listening – some diverting podcasts to take your mind off things.
Stuck at home in desperate need of diversion? Fear not, escapism is only one tap away on your favoured podcast app!
I have been going back through my list of podcasts selecting those that provide something uplifting, thought-provoking, diverting and often funny. During this strange time, it’s more important than ever to take time out to relax, enjoy, smile and even laugh.
Below is my list of 5 podcasts that serve as an audio comfort blanket. Some are suitable for all the family; others are most definitely not! It’s an arbitrary and personal selection with more to follow. Suggestions of what you’re listening to are always welcome (firstname.lastname@example.org @richardmiron1, and on my LinkedIn profile).
So plug in the headphones and fall into the reassuring embrace of some great podcasts….
- Two Dope Queens. Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams are the Dope Queens. They are twenty-something African-American women who are outspoken, uninhibited, sharp, loveable and utterly hilarious. The podcast is not for the prudish – the chat is bawdy and often gynecological. But the repartee has an incisive edge – touching with subtlety on current issues while grabbing a laugh. In the show, Phoebe and Jessica host guests, mostly from the world of comedy, writing and showbiz. Some give performances while others serve as fodder for great interviews. All in all, Two Dope Queens is laugh out loud funny.
- Heavyweight. The best storytelling from the quirky and brilliant Jonathan Goldstein. In the series Goldstein (who is the podcast world’s answer to a mixture of Woody Allen and Ricky Gervais) helps individuals resolve a key moment in their lives (e.g. recovering a family heirloom lost during a drug-fuelled haze, or getting two elderly brothers to resolve a long ago dispute that has divided them). The subjects are often serious, but Goldstein’s humour and lightness of touch give the programmes a quality which induce a grin, a laugh and an often-wistful tear of happiness at the human condition.
- Mortified. In this simple yet hilarious American podcast, people read from diaries and collected thoughts from their teenage years. The angst, pretension and repressed feelings (mostly lustful) of teenagers are laid bare by the adult selves of these once upon a time adolescents. The brilliance lies partly in the reaction of the current day readers to what they wrote many years before. They are able to find considerable humour, while feeling both embarrassment and sympathy with the people they once were. This is a podcast that casts us all back to our teenage years with a big belly laugh.
- Fortunately. This is audio gold brought to you from veteran broadcasters Jane Garvey and Fi Glover. The magic of this podcast is feeling as if you are listening in on two old friends having an intelligent, sharp and endlessly funny back and forth spiced up with some fascinating guests. In this podcast, Jane and Fi reveal in sharp comments and quick asides aspects of their lives, from menopausal flushes to family weekends with stroppy teenagers. Their guests – an eclectic mix from food-writers to newsreaders – provide the fuel for Fi and Jane’s meandering banner. Fortunately delivers a life-enhancing dose of chicken-soup for the soul.
- Dolly Parton’s America. The (dis)United States of America as explained through the life and music of the Queen of Country music. The series is made and produced by Jad Abumrad who is the co-host of the also excellent RadioLab podcast. The programmes which include interviews with Dolly, set out her life and career explaining her unique position in America today. Even if you don’t like Country and Western or aren’t obsessed with American popular culture this programme will entertain and inform you about both in an effortlessly enjoyable manner.
Happy and diverting listening!