I’d like to widen my scope a bit on here and I think the best way to do that is with a review. Now I have to admit, (I’m going back to a Parks and Rec reference here, so sorry for those of you who don’t have these characters living in your head like I do) I love technology, but I often feel like Ron Swanson listening to Tom Haverford every time someone suggests I try something new. When a co-worker suggested that I listen to a podcast, this was what I heard in my head:
Tom Haverford: “Podcasts! There are a million of them and they’re all amazing! Jean Ralphio and I have one called Nacho Average Podcast where we rate different kinds of nachos.”
I’m not quite Ron Swanson, so it is not as if I hadn’t listened to podcasts here and there over time, but they weren’t something that I would normally consider just turning on and listening to. They were something for long trips or if I had heard about something I could use for my class. They just weren’t for everyday entertainment.
However, I’d like to amend my opinion and at least state this; there is one podcast that you should be listening to, and not just on special occasions. Dead Pilots Society was created by Ben Blacker and Andrew Reich, and they get comedy TV pilots that were bought by major networks but never produced. They sit comedians down for a table read, record it and, boom, you are sitting in your car (or going on a walk or run, or working out) listening to a professional sit-com.
For those of you wanting to give it a listen after this, I would direct you to Episode 2 – Only Child by John Hodgman. I can’t remember laughing out loud this much on any recent sit-com, and when I got to the end of the podcast, I was mapping out how a whole first season could have gone. Of course, you have to like Hodgman’s humor, which sometimes borders on the absurd, but I think it is the best introduction to the podcast.
I’ve been slowly bingeing my way through these podcasts, wanting to savor them like you would a Netflix show with only a few seasons worth of shows, and not only are they wholly entertaining, but they also like to take you into the sitcom version of “inside baseball,” giving insight to the pitching and writing process in Hollywood.
I grew up in Los Angeles, I’ve been to television tapings, and classmates of mine got parts in movies and television shows, so I would say that I have always had a somewhat vested interest in the business. However, my interest was always in the writing spectrum. I’ve got lists of potential novel ideas that I always say that I will get around to writing and never do, but there are some television ideas in that list as well. Listening to this podcast makes me feel like if I ever actually got invested and wrote a script, I would at least have a basic understanding of how the system worked and how to navigate through the process as a beginner.
You also get to see many of the tropes being played over and over again through these pilots, many times with the writers saying that they were forced into some of the familiar scenarios when they initially wanted to go another direction. Listening to this podcast also shines a light on how cable and streaming networks have changed the way people think of traditional sit-coms, and how different ideas would have to be marketed to certain studios.
If you are a fan of comedy, the writing process or want a backstage look at the television industry, this is definitely something you should try out; and not just when you have a road trip.