So maybe it’s not the best idea for me to listen to emotionally compelling podcasts during lunch because I tend to get very emotional and weepy when I learn about other people’s breakthroughs, especially when I can so closely relate or am deeply fascinated with the particular phenomena being discussed. But I can’t always tell how a podcast show will affect me and that’s part of why I like the ones I’m discovering so much.
I love taking in information through audio because it allows me to feel in a different way than when I am bombarded by imagery. Now you know I love imagery but podcasts have started to fill just as significant a space in my life as film and television media. This is partially because I can take them anywhere with me, listen to then any time and partially because people communicate differently when their means of communication is intended primarily for audio. I have yet to listen to any fictional podcasts. I just listen to people discussing topics and telling their own stories and I have to say that most of the time it really shifts the way in which I look at life and at people. But I suppose that has as much to do with the podcasts I choose to listen to than anything.
“Girl on Guy” with Aisha Tyler has recently become a fast favorite. I was never sure what to make of Aisha Tyler, a tall, beautiful Black comedienne, the only Black Cast member “Friends” ever had, the voice of a sexy looking, snarky agent on “Archer.” I think I always thought she was too something to be funny. Too pretty…too feminine? No matter what I think, I tend to have predominantly white and or male expectations of comedy because it is literally over run with the two. And I mean Aisha is not funny looking at all. I mean that literally. Looking at Tracee Ellis Ross when she’s being funny in a still photograph makes me laugh. Tracee has a very unique combination of glam and comic going on. Looking at Aisha Tyler does not incite laughter for me.
But listening to “Guy on Girl” I find that Aisha Tyler is more than just funny. She’s emotionally generous, giving, supportive and sensitive to her fans. Sitting with people for anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour talking and listening is not something a lot of people commit to on a whim. Although the podcasts I enjoy often have an interview format, the hosts I prefer thrive on letting the discussion meander off topic occasionally and not being restricted to a set of pre-authorized questions. I have decided that there is a very special talent involved in it, which requires both a presence of mind (and I can tell when someone is really there, particularly over the phone) and a genuine interest in human story. It’s rare. But when it’s real, it’s real and I find it addictive to listen to.
Yesterday I was scrolling around my podcast app at lunch when I came upon an NPR segment called “Invisibilia,” Latin for “All the invisible things,” a podcast which is described as being about “invisible forces that control human behavior.” This episode, which it turns out was the first in the series is called “The Secret History of Thoughts.” I found the study which was composed of anonymously shared stories to be disturbing, fascinating, heart breaking and hope giving. I can never anticipate what I will discover when I go looking for an interesting podcast but most of the time, it’s pretty amazing, inspiring and empowering for me. But then that is what I look for. So that’s what I find. I was obsessed with Ted Talks in this same way for a while last year. OOOOHH Ted Talks! They made me feel so smart! LOL!! I still love them. With podcasts I just get to use a different part of my being to “see” and engage without the conditioned reflexive pressure of comparison and judgement that often comes with “looking.”
You know what made commuting to a so so job and walking through a potentially disastrous blizzard this morning easier for me? Laughing my ass off until there were tears at the latest episode of “The Read” with Kid Fury and Chrissle. My girl Cece over at plussizeprincess.com put me onto this podcast when she stopped by for a visit at 3K last weekend and my husband and I have been listening to it ever since.
As I may have mentioned in the past, I’ve had trouble finding Black people who podcast. It’s like anything else. Photography, fashion, “The Bachelor.” It’s not always easy to know what search term to use when you’re looking for something basic that most people are into but is created, owned and put out there by people of color. Because obviously, we’re not all going to put, “I’m black” in our tags when we create content. It’s not that I only want to listen to or consume content by Black people. It’s that I want to know where they are!!! Like, I want to hear, see, feel, touch, experience content created by Black People at the same level and sometimes higher than that which is always readily available to flood my skull every fucking second that is created by those who identify as White. If that came off sounding a bit hostile at the end, that’s because that’s how I feel about it.
So anyway I’ve only just started listening to “The Read” and for me, it’s not only entertainment and information. It’s research. Like Tea with Queen and J it is a two person hosted podcast which I really love. I like it when two people have this dynamic chemistry that is both engaging, authentic, entertaining and provocative. While they primarily tend to address popular Bossip and express their own personal views and opinions which are always arguable, they also have a “Black Excellence” bit where they give a shout out to Black achievers and entrepreneurs which they select from emails sent in or tweeted by listeners. I love that. They also respond to emails from listeners seeking advice in an sort of advice column format.
“The Read” is not for the meek or sexually repressed. Fury and Chrissel can get a bit raunchy and sometimes ratchet and they keep it pretty real. But if you’re a snark and shade junkie like me you will feel very at home there. I was doing the zombie walk of the half awake into midtown this morning while listening to this latest episode and I just busted out laughing, this loud, high pitched, involuntary sputtering laughter as I emerged from the subway. I love that about good podcasts in general. I kinda wish like 65% of commuters would listen to podcasts that make them smile and laugh and take notes so that we could just give each other better energy when we’re crammed together everyday making our way towards the heaven or hell of our own making. I want to see more people laughing and smiling or nodding to themselves or even just feeling anything but apathy, doldrums and misery. There is zero potential for positive connection when we’re routinely in the pit of commuting despair. I feel the same way about reading.
What podcasts are you listening to? And no, I won’t be annoyed if they aren’t hosted by Black people but you do get like 100 points in my book if there are podcasts made by people of color you highly recommend. I’m just saying.
Instead of trying to transcribe to you my discoveries of last night I would like to direct you over to my Soundcloud podcast for Urban Eve so you can lend your ear over there. Let’s just say I have been wanting to do a podcast for almost a year now and I’ve been thinking about and writing down ideas for formats and listening and researching and after last night, I’m just doing it. I’m just doing it! Urban Eve is just going to take you through the carefully selected live moments of my life and my day, my thoughts and my dreams, my interactions and my observations through Soundcloud.
I won’t stop writing here. I love to write and writing is a great way to interact, an important way to share and gain information but from now on I will be experimenting with Soundcloud accompaniment because I just need to and I also love to talk and I love what I get from the podcasts I listen to and being informed in this way as well. So check it out! It’s just the beginning.