My third pick of the podcasts that have meant the most to me in 2019 (so far!), featuring: Laurie Ruettimann; Rich Roll; Jeff Gordinier; Richard Herring; Tony Slattery; Joey Diaz; Andrew Schulz; RuPaul; Michelle Visage; Nile Rodgers; Leonard Maltin; Jessie Maltin; and Fred Willard.
What podcasts have spoken to you this year? What podcasters go deep into your skull? Please do get in touch and let me know – I am always interested in new recommendations for what to check out next!
Podcasting is the gift that keeps on giving. This is my third selection of the best podcasts that I’ve heard in 2019 (so far!). It covers the roughly three-month period from late June to late September 2019.
5: Leonard Maltin/Jessie Maltin/Fred Willard
“I’m laughing just thinking about it!” This is Jessie Maltin recalling just one among millions of delightful comedic moments from the preposterously abundant five-decade-plus career of Fred Willard. His incredible IMDb filmography lists a dizzying array of films, including three of my eternal favourites: Best in Show; Wall-E; and Anchorman. I am starting to wonder, though, if I might need my Spinal Tap pass revoked. I only twigged from this podcast that Willard is the gent who asks the Tap if this is their first visit to a military facility and recommends that they check out “a musical group works out of Kansas City, calls themselves Four Jacks and a Jill”!* Maltin on Movies is always the warmest, loveliest podcast. In each episode, film critic Leonard Maltin and his daughter Jessie delve deep into the careers of their guests and celebrate the magic of film. This particular episode just glows with Fred Willard’s charm, humour and charisma. A delightful listen to make you smile from ear to ear.
4: RuPaul/Michelle Visage/Nile Rodgers
RuPaul and Michelle Visage’s wonderful What’s the Tee? podcast is on such a roll at the moment. They’ve gifted us with great chat after great chat, with a head-spinning range of outstanding guests. This episode is a music fan’s dream. Ru only gets a short time with the great Mr Rodgers, so the questions come thick and fast. This podcast is almost a companion piece to Nile Rodger’s essential autobiographical tome Le Freak, expanding on some of the stories there, and exploring topics that weren’t in the book. There’s lots on Diana Ross, Sheila B and Devotion… and shedloads of Chic!
3: Joey Diaz/Andrew Schulz
“You make your own path.” I’ve become addicted to Joey Diaz’s The Church of What’s Happening Now. I never miss an episode. Through The Church, Joey Diaz (aka Uncle Joey) is creating a huge, rambling autobiographical work in podcast form. Brutal humour and brutal truth, spoken with a twinkle in the eye and a heart of gold. Uncle Joey shares the hard-earned wisdom built up on his path through life (although, the more you listen, the more you realise he’s lived through and learnt from way more than most of us could cram into 10 lifetimes). I love how Diaz moves gently, imperceptibly to draw some episodes to the most uplifting, positive conclusion (no matter how depraved what’s come before). It’s hard to single out a particular episode of The Church. They’re all great. But Joey’s recent chat with fellow comedian Andrew Schulz is outstanding. For any aspiring stand-up comedian – or anyone interested in creativity – a huge amount of practical wisdom is shared here. Uncle Joey also offers some lovely words on what podcasting means to him: “You know why I love the concept of the podcast so much? I wanted to make people start listening again. I think we forgot how to listen. I see it in humans. We don’t listen. Every day. We don’t listen. We don’t pay attention. That’s why I love the podcast. Because it’s unedited and raw. This is what a podcast is. It’s us having a fuckin’ conversation.” Amen.
2: Richard Herring/Tony Slattery
Slattery will get you nowhere. I used to love the incredible (frequently Twiglet-fixated) flights of improvisational fantasy served by Tony Slattery on Whose Line Is It Anyway? If you read Slattery’s heartbreaking Guardian interview a few months back, you will know that he has been going through a prolonged rough patch. You come away from that interview hoping he can find at least a little comfort, happiness and peace. A few months later, Slattery’s chat with Richard Herring at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival seems to suggest that things are getting better. It’s one of the most joyously uplifting podcasts I have ever heard. It’s shocking at first to hear how ravaged Slattery’s voice sounds. But the most wonderful thing happens over course of their conversation. Slattery’s razor-sharp, ultra-fast humour seems gradually to switch on, building quickly to full intensity. Towards the end, Slattery’s incredible improvisational wit delivers perhaps the single biggest audience laugh I’ve ever heard on RHLSTP. The audience love him and are so pleased to see him back to top comedic form. Me too. This podcast seems to show a fragile soul moving toward a much better place. It’s never too late. I sincerely hope that this positive path continues. I wish you the very best, Mr Slattery. I thank you for this incredible podcast episode, Mr Herring.
1: Laurie Ruettimann/Jeff Gordinier and Rich Roll/Jeff Gordinier
“Innovation is so beautiful.” When words create wonder, adventure, discovery and – yes – hunger. I’ve bent the rules slightly for this latest selection of my top five podcasts to allow a joint number one. I see this as a single epic and inspiring conversation spread across food journalist and author Jeff Gordinier’s podcasts with Laurie Ruettimann and Rich Roll. Mr Gordinier describes his adventures with chef René Redzepi, which inspired his excellent book Hungry (I blogged extensively about this in my recent post A touch of chaos in the air). Gordinier’s enthusiasm and his openness to exciting new experiences are so infectious. It’s fascinating to hear the different but equally lovely types of rapport he builds with Ruettimann and Roll.** I would hope that anyone listening to these podcasts will come away with a renewed appetite to discover the next wonderful thing this world has to offer.
Laurie Ruettimann Let’s Fix Work podcast with Jeff Gordinier
Rich Roll podcast with Jeff Gordinier
* Here is Fred Willard’s wonderful moment in This is Spinal Tap!
** As a music fan of a certain vintage, I was particularly delighted to hear Jeff Gordinier (a former music journalist) and Rich Roll successfully nail that bewildering feeling that comes to so many of us, when you declare “I’m into new bands like the White Stripes”, only to have your interlocutor point out that said “new” band has been around for 20 years. Ouch.
- Skeleton (with the latest model SkeleApple headphones) #Sketchulence by MJCarty.