Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: Far Out

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Vital stats:
Format: two guys, rotating guests, funny lists, and an odd recurring Michael Jackson impression
Episode duration: ~30m
Frequency: twice a week

Once, for reasons I can’t quite explain, I wrote up a bunch of similar podcasts more or less in a row. I have a hard time remembering much about them except their broadest shared quality: being TTWGBACs. For those new to Podthoughts, this ugly set of letters stands for Two Twentysomething/Thirtysomething White Guys/Girls Bullshitting About Culture (“White” broadly defined), the dominant podcast genre of our time. Why I would listen to so many? Let me assure you that you can have an engaging artistic experience with TTWGBACs if you approach them as you would sonnets: expect almost no formal variations, but revel in the tiny ones you do hear.

While I’d rather not actually read old Podthoughts — the temptation delve into irrelevantly late revision pulls strong — I distinctly recall enjoying Low Budget FM more than its stylistic compatriots. Maybe I had more fun because the show introduced the word “chaunch”; maybe I had more fun because the resulting column attracted seven (count ‘em!) comments. Either way, when I got wind that Perry has something new going in the podcasting world, I felt compelled to check it out.

But wait. Didn’t Perry, back on Low Budget FM, say something about how his wife gives him an allowance? Does writing about this man’s podcasts constitute endorsement of that practice, which weirds me out to no end? Even if I’m not misremembering this, though, it might not matter. Could such a public admission identify him as not only just open enough but just unusual enough to consistently generate good podcast talk? Only by listening to Far Out [RSS] [iTunes] could I know for sure.

The seasoned TTWGBAC enthusiast won’t get any surprises right away. They’ll hear a pair of conversationally comic hosts — former “KECC Radio Club President” Buck Perez takes the seat next to Perry’s — and they’ll hear a guest. But they’ll come to find that the guest situation makes one of Far Out’s several departures from its genre’s established way of doing things. Each episode of the program brings on not a new guest but one of a rotating cast of regulars, almost semi-hosts themselves. Sometimes one of them will say something and their last word will simultaneously echo and fade out like they’re talking through a midcentury Jamaican sound system. I still don’t know how they do that, but I can’t stop loving it.

Other sonic niceties include surreally decontextualized snippets inserted at the very top of the show; clips from “bad” bands that the hosts nonetheless love; and swear-intensive movie lines bizarrely dubbed over by network television. That last one comes from one of the many games invented and played on the show. Other regular conversational engines include lists found on the internet (“Top Ten Worst Office Workers” [MP3], “How to Show Up Goth Without Looking Like a Poser” [MP3]), opening listener mail, marveling at a Russian news story, (often) discussing a recent embarrassment or, I don’t know, a read-aloud from Perry’s high school diary.

But, weirdly, one choice above all others gives Far Out a different feel than other podcasts in its class: new episodes go up twice a week instead of the usual once, and each one runs about half an hour instead of the usual hour or two. Now, I love long-form shows and I love podcasting for its fostering of long-form shows, but this show’s position between short and long gives it something I can’t pin down. Perhaps semi-brevity and frequency really are the souls of wit. Shakespeare wrote that, right? Can’t argue with someone that good at sonnets.

[Podthinker Colin Marshall also happens to host and produce The Marketplace of Ideas [iTunes], a public radio show and podcast dedicated to in-depth cultural conversation. Please hire him for something.]

Comments

They pretty much rule!

I love Far Out! Every show has me laughing out loud at the gym or silently giggling while at work. Their twice weekly show is always looked forward to. Tod and Buck seem like guys I would love to be at a party with! I followed Tod from Low Budget, and glad i did. Keep it up guys. :)