July 12, 2012

Podcast Fuckery: By Dan Friesen

Full disclosure: I have a podcast. I've recorded a podcast at least once a week for the last three years. When I moved to Chicago, I recorded a podcast the night before I left my hometown and one three days later after I hit my first few open mics in the city. Two days after my apartment burned down, I recorded a podcast with a guest who repeatedly claimed responsibility for starting the fire (spoiler alert: it was Jason Earl Folks, and I'm only half convinced he was kidding).

Having a podcast has been one of the most enriching experiences in my life. I have the opportunity to create exactly what I want to create, hopefully entertain some people, and most importantly, I get to hang out with the people I like the most, explore their life stories, and pretend that we're somehow being productive. I've put an astounding amount of effort and money into my podcast and never as much as thought of getting anything out of it. Doing the show, as lame as this sounds, is its own reward. I've never wanted to get paid, I've never expected anyone to congratulate me, but I would be completely lying if I said that I had no expectations. I had one big expectation that people have sadly not lived up to.

I expected that people wouldn't just blindly shit on me for no reason.

It's become super cool to make fun of people who do podcasts. “If I have to see one more post about someone starting a podcast, I'm going to (fill in the blank with some idle threat).” “Why do you have to record everything? Can't you just have a fucking conversation without a microphone?” Comments like these are thrown around more liberally than “ironic” racial slurs at open mics. And I'm sick of it.

I accept that there are a ton of podcasts, and that a lot of them are not very good. Mine isn't the best thing ever; I grant that. But if you're going to complain that there are a too many podcasts, why stop there? If there are too many podcasts, there are sure as shit too many comics. There's a lot of comics, and as is the case with podcasts, a lot of them suck. My argument is that we're in a big city, and that there are going to be good and bad comics, there are going to be good and bad podcasts. In much the same way that you can leave the room when a comic you don't like is on stage, you can just as easily not listen to a podcast you're not interested in.

What confuses me is that most of these people who complain so much about how everyone has a podcast aren't people who have podcasts. If I were to complain about how there are so many podcasts, my point could be that I worry that the project I've poured myself into will get lost in the shuffle. When I hear the complaining, I pretty much just hear “I hate that all these people are trying something. I would probably enjoy doing something like that if I wasn't worried about people like me judging me.”

Life, and comedy (since it's such a huge part of all our lives), is about exploration, experimentation, and growth. The surest enemy of all those things is snark and glib dismissal. And here's the best part: all it takes to get rid of snark and glib dismissal is for people to cut it out.
So please, for your sake and mine, cut it out. Let's all stop punishing people for trying.

Dan Friesen 
Contributing Writer