I would like to think that I am somewhat of a podcast junkie. I’ll subscribe to a bunch of new ones every so often on iTunes, and then listen a few times to see if I find something worthwhile there. Every so often, friends will ask for podcast recommendations, and I usually go a little overboard with recommendations. But it’s funny, too, that recommending content to a friend who would absolutely find a show as awesome as I do, still might mean they never listen to it because there’s still some weird stigma with podcasts, somehow. I haven’t quite figured out what it is. Maybe that the term itself is kind of bizarre and not really a good representation of the media. And maybe that the content varies so widely, and people get an idea of what a podcast should be rather than taking it as content they’ll enjoy. But I dunno. I mean, I grew up listening to NPR in the car with my mom and have very fond memories of shows like Bob and Ray, just to make a list of one. So I feel like that background is exactly the kind of thing that leaves you open to whatever the podcast might be about, and whatever methods are used to tell stories, really. And I’ve always been a fan of storytelling.
My favorite new podcast is not one that I stumbled into in my usual way, but one that was recommended to me by a friend. “No one I tell about it will listen, so I have no one to talk to about it.” She’s always one to listen to for recommendations, so I looked it up and the tagline reeled me in immediately, and the first episode clinched it. So here it is, another list of one, my favorite podcast of the year:
Hello from the Magic Tavern. Welcome to the magical land of Foon. This show has a thin veil of a premise and then is pure improv comedy that nearly always makes me burst into laughter and make my coworkers wonder what the hell is wrong with me. The concept, one that’ll make you need to suspend some disbelief, is that a guy named Arnie, while driving through a Burger King drive-thru, accidentally traveled through a portal into another world (a magical world with wizards, shapeshifters, and a ton of other crazy characters). He brought his podcasting equipment and records a show in a tavern in Foon with two characters he met there and then broadcasts it back through the weak wi-fi signal from the Burger King. You can probably imagine a lot of things you have to just shrug off and trust as true, but you won’t mind, especially when they have episodes with songs. And you’ll need a dirty and very open mind to truly enjoy this weekly journey. It bears mentioning that one of the sponsors of the show is Cards Against Humanity, so if you’re a fan of that game, you will probably love this show.
Sometimes the live episodes are a bit harder to trudge through, as they sometimes pull away the barriers of the regular show that makes it feel a little more realistic. There are times I could picture events unfolding, like a character goes to the bar to get drinks and you don’t hear from them for a few minutes, and you really think they’re off getting a round of rainbow bowls. Or maybe that’s just my overactive imagination at play. The best episodes often include musical guests, and I really wish they’d produce a Music of Foon album, because I’d buy the shit out of that. My top three favorite episodes: Music of Foon, Offices & Bosses, and Pandenomicon. I’d recommend just about any of those as stand-alone episodes that’ll hook you on the show and make you tear through the almost 2-year run of episodes in a matter of months. But then you’ll want to listen again, to catch things you missed the first time, and to gain a greater appreciation of the span of the recall jokes that are part of what makes this podcast so magical.