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Humour podcasts: Daily dose of laughter

Amrita V Nair | Updated on November 22, 2019 Published on November 21, 2019

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The antidote to mild annoyances — from a bout of flu to the dreaded Monday morning blues — is humour

Contrary to what a yesteryear song made popular by Doris Day would have you believe, life in the modern world is hardly ever “a bowl of cherries”. The larger and more pernicious problems in life, of course, defy easy solutions. However, the milder annoyances — the low-key misery of a bout of flu, for instance, or the dreaded Monday morning blues — are, in my opinion, best fought off with laughter. Thanks to the fact that we live in what seems to be a golden age of both comedy and podcasting, there is no dearth of shows catering to many different senses of humour. These are a few of my favourite podcasts that I turn to when in need of a good laugh.

The Baby-Sitters Club Club

Like millions of young readers all over the world in the 1990s, I was obsessed with Ann M Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club novels. Set in the fictional small town of Stoneybrook, Connecticut, the books recounted the trials and tribulations of a group of young girls and their babysitting service. While most of the fans of the series were young girls, like the heroines of the book, an impressionable young boy named Jack Shepherd chanced upon them and read the entire series from cover to cover. Decades later, as an adult, Shepherd banded together with his best friend Tanner Greenring to host a podcast dedicated entirely to the discussion of “hidden” themes in the books. In the podcast, Shepherd and Greenring (who had not read these books prior to the project) narrate the plots and examine them through a quasi-academic lens, calling on references ranging from George Orwell’s 1984 to Marxism and drawing literary interpretations that were most definitely unintended by the author. Hilarity ensues. Even if you have never picked up one of these books in your life, you can still follow along and enjoy this podcast. Find it at babysittersclubclub.com.

No such thing as a fish

One of the most popular podcasts in the world, No such thing as a fish is hosted by the researchers of the BBC comedy quiz show QI. In each episode, the researchers present the best (and often silliest) fact that they encountered in their research that week. The other hosts then discuss the fact, often providing additional information or related trivia. The podcast is a great way to de-stress after a long day while also learning something fun and interesting. Listen at nosuchthingasafish.com.

John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme

John Finnemore is best known as the creator and writer of the BBC radio sitcom Cabin Pressure, which starred Benedict Cumberbatch. His Souvenir Programme is a sketch comedy series being broadcast on BBC Radio 4 since 2011. The series, as all of Finnemore’s creations, is truly delightful with his characteristic whimsical sense of humour shining through in each sketch. The show has won several awards since its inception, and listening to it is one of my favourite ways to start the day. Listen at bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01mk97n.

Welcome to Night Vale

Created in the style of a fictional radio show, Welcome to Night Vale masterfully inhabits the difficult genre of horror comedy. The show presents radio dispatches from Night Vale, a mysterious otherworldly town with creepy residents and eerie goings-on. The beating heart of the show, though, is the relationship between Cecil, the fictional radio show host, and Carlos, a scientist who moves to Night Vale. Their love blossoms even amidst the deaths of interns, the presence of mysterious Hooded Figures and the sudden appearance of destructive pyramids. Their romance was part of the reason why the show amassed a cult following. While some episodes lean more towards the frightening than the funny, the podcast has numerous belly laugh inducing moments. The lo-fi background music and the dulcet voice of the main voice actor, Cecil Baldwin, also make this a perfect podcast to fall asleep to — unless, of course, you are easily spooked. Listen at welcometonightvale.com.

Dear Hank & John

In this podcast, popular novelist John Green and his brother and film-maker Hank Green answer questions sent in by listeners and offer, by their own admission, “dubious advice”. Have you ever wondered why stationary escalators are so disconcerting? Did you buy a coffee table book off Amazon that you don’t know what to do with? Are you worried about colony collapse disorder in bees and want to know how you can help save the insects? These, and other dilemmas, may have solutions that can easily be found with a quick round of Googling. Why do that, however, when you could instead tune into the Green brothers’ podcast and receive fairly suspect but exceptionally witty and creative solutions and advice for your questions? The podcast has been running since 2015 and is a firm favourite across the world. The hosts’ easy camaraderie and jovial approach to the topics at hand make this podcast great fun to listen to. Listen at wnycstudios.org/podcasts/dear-hank-john.

Amrita V Nair is a freelance writer, public policy specialist and podcast enthusiast

Published on November 21, 2019

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