TV 101: Podcasts That Could Be TV Shows
That much time in coach turns your brain into pudding - you need a crutch to get you through it. I've turned into a podcast junkie. At any given time of the day or night, I'm probably flying over you, listening to some guy in his basement rant about the whether the "Blackest Night" event is good or bad for the DC universe.
I'm like an awkward, misshapen George Clooney from 'Up in the Air.' Except instead of hot sex with Vera Farmiga, I'm snuggling with Leo Laporte.
After all this podcast listening (not to mention the success of the 'Ricky Gervais Show'), it occurred to me that a few of my favorites would make excellent TV shows.
Now, a couple of things we need to get straight before this list starts: there are currently forty bazillion podcasts floating around iTunes. If I didn't pick your favorite it's not because I have a secret vendetta against you; I probably just haven't had a chance to listen to it. Before you comment about what a horrible person I am, please take your chlorpromazine, calm down and then list your podcast of choice in the comments. I promise I'll check it out.
Also, I tend to drift towards well-produced, mainstream podcasts. This has more to do with sound quality than a rejection of the can-do nature of a guy with a laptop and a dream. It can be hard to listen to a podcast that sounds like an Edison Cylinder Record.
So, with that out of the way, here are five podcasts I'd like to see as television shows (and two honorable mentions).
Honorable Mention Number One: 'The TV Squad Podcast' hosted by Joel Keller.
C'mon, I had to.
Honorable Mention Number Two: 'This Week in Startups' hosted by Jason Calacanis.
'TWiST' is a weekly discussion about business on the web. It's probably a bit too niche to ever make it as a TV show, but there's no denying that Calacanis is a compelling broadcaster. His appearances on 'TWiT' have turned him into the Howard Stern of the digital set: you either love him or hate him - I'm in the love camp - but you're not turning off a podcast that has him as a guest or a host.
Podcast #5: 'Stuff You Should Know' hosted Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark.
The concept is pretty simple: every week, Chuck and Josh research a subject and then tell you about it. They're laid back and funny the same way your favorite teacher was. Also, like that favorite teacher, you secretly suspect that they smoke a lot of pot.
If the Discovery Channel cared about science or The Learning Channel (excuse me, TLC) cared about learning, they'd pick up 'Stuff You Should Know' and turn it into a show. There are some people who still like learning things that are not Kardashian-related and Chuck and Josh do a good job scratching that itch.
Podcast #4: 'WTF' hosted by Marc Maron.
The nine of us who watched 'Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn' remember Marc as the liberal agitator on a show filled with angry neocons. The four of us who listened to Air America Radio remember Marc as the liberal radio show host in a nation filled with angry neocons.
Well, he's out of both of those jobs, out of his marriage, and broadcasting from the garage of his house.
'WTF' is an interview show, but it's mostly about Maron and his various phobias and neuroses. Like a lot of comics, Maron is a raging ego-centric who would claim to be the center of the universe if only he thought that the universe was important enough to be surrounding him. Unlike a lot of comics, Maron is completely honest with what he's feeling at any given time, which makes both the guest he's interviewing and we, the listeners, feel like we're his therapist.
Beyond all that, the show is funny (would it be too twee to say "you'll LOL at WTF"? Probably.) Should Comedy Central ever want to develop a show that didn't involve naughty cartoon characters or hipster sketch comedy, Maron would be a good place to start.
Podcast #3: 'Hatecast' hosted by Amelie Gillette.
AV Club's Amelie Gillette has the greatest job in America: she spends all day consuming pop culture for the sole purpose of pooping on it. It's a toss-up between that and porn-star for "job that I would most like to have".
The 'Hatecast' is a twenty minute audio version of her column, just as funny and filthy. It wouldn't be out of place as a companion to Chelsea Handler's less-smart version of Gillette's schtick on the E! Network. I could also see a 'Hatecast' TV show on VH1 or Spike or Comedy Central.
Podcast #2: 'The Adam Carolla Podcast' hosted by Adam Carolla and 'The BS Report' hosted by Bill Simmons (Tie).
I didn't want to take two slots up on Simmons and the Aceman because they take turns as the number one podcast in America, so you already probably know about them. Suffice it to say that they're both masters of the "Guy Talk" brand of radio and would fit nicely with any channel seeking to lure males 18-49 (so, uh, every channel except Lifetime and ESPN whenever they show women's college basketball).
Podcast #1: 'Macbreak Weekly' hosted by Leo Laporte.
I've written about Leo before (and, technically, I guess his shows are already TV shows), but any list of podcasts would suffer without Leo being included.
He currently runs about six thousand netcasts we love from people we trust out of the Twit Cottage, but I chose 'Macbreak Weekly' specifically for Andy Ihnatko and Merlin Mann, two of his regular co-hosts. Ihnatko and Mann are hilarious in a geeky way that isn't often seen on television. What I mean is that every group of geeks includes a funny friend that none of the normals would ever laugh at, but that we find hilarious. John Hodgman notwithstanding, when TV executives try to find a funny geek, they never go for the real stuff like Ihnatko and Mann; they always find some good-looking pseudo-geek that never quite gets it (coughKevinPereiracough).
G4 needs to find a place for 'MacBreak Weekly.' If they don't want the Mac angle, just call it 'Andy And Merlin and Leo' and just let the three of them talk about whatever for an hour every week. Geeks would watch and we would laugh.
And then we would go in our basements and cry, because that's what we do.
(Jay Black is a comedian and writer who really hopes you like this column. To learn more about Jay or to catch one of his live shows, check out his website at www.jayblackcomedy.net.)