While I meant well with today’s post about social media, I didn’t want to leave people too heavy of a load today. That’s why I’ve iced my cake of social commentary with a bit of fun loving goodness.
I’ve been aware of podcasts for quite some time, but for some reason or another I didn’t actually start listening to them until a year or so ago. Looking back, it was a bit odd considering I used to have an hour and a half long commute to work and happened to be on a podcast myself. The truth is, my obsession with podcasts came at a time when my social outlets had diminished considerably after moving to the exotic city of Berlin, Germany. The transition was difficult at first and the only laughter I had in my life tended to turn into soft weeping as I wandered the streets of that foreign land, hands outstretched, looking not for money but for companionship. That companionship ended up coming from The Maximum Fun Network, an A-Team like collective of hilarious and thought provoking podcasts from all over the world ( I did eventually make real life friends, so keep those pen pal requests holstered…actually go ahead and un-holster them, I’m still reeling from an unmotivated Australian pen pal from second grade).
Helmed by public radio host Jesse Thorn, the Maximum Fun Network is in my eyes, the best place to start should a person be in the market for an alternative to talk radio, books on tape or whatever other forms of media one uses to pass the time. The amount of content is impressive, especially considering it’s all FREE! Well free in the sense that Maximum Fun runs on support from listeners (not unlike NPR), which allows for the creators of its content to not only control the rights to their respective shows, but also not be controlled by a third party. In my eyes, that is a very important aspect of Maximum Fun’s structure as I know nothing I hear will ever be watered down. Not that I have an issue with advertisers (trust me, I’d be happy to run ads someday), but I do have a problem with advertisers having too much say in the creative process.
Anyway, I thought I’d run down the list of Maximum Fun shows that are available (I’ve listened to most of them) and give a quick summary of what they’re all about and/or why you should listen to them. While I like some more than others, they’re all quite good and always interesting (it’s worth noting that while some are family friendly, for the most part the content is aimed at adults).
My Brother, My Borther and Me– MBMBaM was the show that brought me to Maximum Fun. An “advice” show hosted by three brothers (Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy), it’s probably resonates with me so much due to the fact that I too happen to be one of three brothers who tend to have ridiculous conversations when we’re together (which is sadly not often enough since there are multiple states and countries in between us). While they don’t always take the questions they’re asked (or find on Yahoo Answers) seriously, it’s obvious their hearts are in the right place. With that in mind, never actually take their advice.
Jordan Jesse Go (JJGo)– Jesse Thorn (in one of his many appearances in addition to being Max Fun’s owner) and Jordan Morris have open ended conversations with comedians and other entertainers of note. It’s loose, always funny and at times gives you insight into the life of entertainers (though that’s not necessarily the point of the show).
Bullseye– Jesse Thorn also hosts this show as well. Bullseye is a podcast about “what’s good in culture” giving you a behinds the scenes look at things you may know about and others that you don’t but maybe should. It features interviews and reviews with a format that’s easy to digest and content that’s always interesting. This is literally where I get my culture from (despite living in Europe).
International Waters– Formerly hosted by Jesse Thorn (the dude makes me feel super lazy, Dave Holmes hosts International Waters, a comedy quiz show that pits nation against nation (usually America vs the UK). The best part about the show is that meaningless points can be earned by not only answering correctly, but also by answering in an entertaining fashion. Because the contestants are all known comedians, this makes for a robust chuckle-fest to say the least.
Judge John Hodgman– For people that have disagreements not quite important enough for civil court, Judge John Hodgman is there to settle things out with devastating wit and an encyclopedic knowledge of, well almost everything. Fans of the Daily Show (and I guess Dell computer commercials) will instantly recognize John Hodgman and their fondness will increase twenty-fold as he tries to settle dispute between normal everyday folks. Jesse Thorn (who’s showing off at this point) also makes an appearance as the bailiff on this show.
Stop Podcasting Yourself-Hosted by Grahmn Clark and Dave Shumka, SPY is a Canadian comedy podcast that bears some resemblance to JJGo in terms of its casual format (hilarious people talking about hilarious subjects, a bit of a trend on Maximum Fun), though it’s just as funny. I have a weird affinity for Canadian comedians, so it doesn’t hurt that a majority of the guests are denizens of the northern part of North America.
Throwing Shade– Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi spend their time talking about events and issues concerning women and the LGBT community. Before you go thinking that you don’t fit into their demographic (looking at you straight dudes), you should know that not only are they a really funny duo, they talk about things that a lot of us overlook or are just uninformed about.
Dave Hill’s Podcasting Incident– As a musician, comedian, actor, artists writer and podcast host, Dave Hill is a multiple threat. On this show, Dave sits down and talks with an interesting person from the comfort of his apartment. The guests are from all different entertainment mediums, but it’s Dave’s cool chilled demeanor that makes this show stand out a bit from the pack.
Sawbones– MBMaM member Justin McElroy and his wife Dr. Sydnee McElroy host a podcast about medical history, mainly focusing on the absolutely insane (and sometimes horrifying) things we did in the past to make people feel better. While funny, it also makes you a bit more thankful that you were born in the late twentieth century.
Oh No, Ross and Carrie– Carrie Poppy and Ross Blochter host a podcast where they investigate “paranormal claims, fringe science and spirituality”. They handled this in the least condescending wy possible in that they actually participate in the subjects they cover and come to conclusions afterwards. As a wannabe paranormal investigator, it’s cool to see how one can go about looking into the strange and fantastical.
So now that you know, go on over to Maximum Fun and start gorging yourself. If you like what you hear then donate; your cash goes directly to supporting the shows you love and not into the pocket of a greedy robot or oversize cat.
I didn’t list everything (Lady to Lady,The Goosedown,Song Exploder,RISK!,Memory Palace,Wham Bam Pow,One Bad Mother ) as I haven’t listened to every single show on the network. That being said, based on the experience I’ve had with the aforementioned podcasts I can safely say that these shows are also just as entertaining. Check back though as I plan to do a part 2 in the future!