Leslie Mullen, via startalkradio.net
Leslie Mullen, via startalkradio.net

Pod City: This Week's Most Interesting Podcasts

Leslie Mullen, via startalkradio.net
Leslie Mullen, via startalkradio.net

Each Friday I round up a few nuggets of wisdom from the podcasting world. I try not to mention the same show twice, so check the archives for more listening suggestions!

1. BEN STILLER OWNS A GORN FROM STAR TREK.

StarTalk, Nov. 2 Episode

At least, he owns a Gorn head, according to pal Hank Azaria. In this episode, host and astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson asks the actor about a variety of topics, including his voice work on The Simpsons, his science-related TV and film roles, and his “geek” cred, which includes an interest in comic books and, yes, Star Trek. (In case you were wondering, he prefers Kirk to Picard.) 

2. ONE MAN WAS CONNED FOR A QUARTER-CENTURY … AND NEVER TOLD ANYONE.

Criminal, Episode 11

The podcast highlights a particularly heartbreaking crime in its latest episode with a tale of a kind man who, after an unfortunate detour in a bad neighborhood, wound up being conned out of about $100,000 over a period of 25 years. It would spoil the story to reveal anything more. 

3. BRILLIANT PSYCHOPATHS ARE HARD TO COME BY.

Serial, Episode 7

In the latest riveting episode of this podcast, an attorney offers her take on Adnan Syed’s case—and even enlists law students to help dissect it. After host Sarah Koenig wonders aloud whether Adnan is innocent or a very intelligent killer, the attorney notes how rare it is to encounter that type of personality.

4. QUESTLOVE LOVES QUISP CEREAL.

Food is the New Rock, Episode 118

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The drummer dishes about the glory days of The Roots’ tour riders, which he says were all about acquiring nonperishables the band could stockpile and bring home after the tour. Among the requests: Ten boxes of cereal in every city.

5. CHRIS GETHARD THOUGHT HE WAS A GHOST (TWICE).

Mental Illness Happy Hour, Episode 197

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In this episode of Paul Gilmartin’s podcast, the comedian is astoundingly honest about his lifelong struggles with depression. He talks about therapy, medication, his best moments, and his hardest moments, like a couple times when he deluded himself into thinking he was invisible to the world around him. 

6. KRAMER WORE THE SAME NECKLACE THROUGHOUT SEINFELD’S RUN.

Seincast: A Seinfeld Podcast, Episode 18

Each episode of Seincast takes a very detailed look back at one episode of the hit sitcom. This ep deals with “The Deal,” in which Jerry and Elaine decide to become friends with benefits. Along with clips and analysis, the hosts (and diehard fans) impart bits of trivia like this Kramer gem. 

7. PAUL F. TOMPKINS ATTENDS AMAZING DINNER PARTIES.

I Was There Too, Episode 1

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In this show, which is part of the new Wolfpop podcasting network, host Matt Gourley talks to lesser-known actors who appeared in famous movie and TV scenes. The debut ep features Tompkins, who had a small part in There Will Be Blood. He describes attending dinner parties with director Paul Thomas Anderson, who later offered him the role via phone.

S-Town Podcast Is Being Turned Into a Movie

S-Town, a seven-part podcast from Serial and This American Life, has all the trappings of a binge-worthy story. It all started when a man from the tiny town of Woodstock, Alabama asked a reporter to investigate a local man from a wealthy family who allegedly boasted he had gotten away with murder.

As for what happens next, “someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man's life,” reads the 2017 podcast’s synopsis, without giving too much away.

Now, that riveting story is being turned into a movie with This American Life’s participation, IndieWire reports. Participant Media acquired the rights to the S-Town podcast, and negotiations are underway to get playwright Samuel Hunter and director Tom McCarthy on board. McCarthy is perhaps best known for directing and co-writing 2015's Oscar-winning Spotlight; he also co-wrote Up and was an executive producer and director for the controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.

S-Town was downloaded over 10 million times over a period of four days after its release, and it received a Peabody Award for the radio/podcast category, according to IndieWire. Just last month, HBO and Sky announced they would be releasing a documentary series about Adnan Syed, the focus of the first season of the Serial podcast, which is developed by This American Life.

In case you missed S-Town when it premiered, you can go back and listen to it here.

[h/t IndieWire]

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There's Now a Podcast That Plays Nothing But Laughter for Six Hours Straight
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iStock

If you’re the kind of person who loathes sitcoms with a laugh track, this one probably isn’t for you. A podcast (that might be a generous term) called “Radio Haha” has been launched in celebration of World Laughter Day on May 6, and it plays nothing but laughter—for six hours straight.

In the podcast, produced by UK apartment share service SpareRoom, you’ll hear some guffaws and giggles, and plenty of cackles and chortles. It may seem absurd at first, but listen long enough and you might find yourself laughing, too. That’s because laughter is contagious, even when it comes from an artificial source.

One study by neuroscientist and “laughter expert” Robert Provine revealed that 90 percent of test subjects smiled while listening to 19 seconds of laughter generated by a novelty store toy, and nearly half laughed along. This study and others like it suggest that the dreaded laugh track does in fact work, even if many modern TV viewers find it tacky.

Science has also shown that many health benefits are associated with laughter. Not only does it release endorphins that make you feel good, but it also relieves stress, improves your immune system, reduces blood pressure, relieves pain, and improves brain function.

Presented with all this evidence, one doctor in India invented “laughter yoga,” a movement that has been growing ever since it was founded in 1995. Dr. Madan Kataria realized that even forced laughter can trigger a genuine giggle, leading him to create the very first laughter club, which spawned the first World Laughter Day.

The inaugural event in Mumbai, India, attracted over 12,000 members of local and international “laughter clubs." Participants carried signs, marched, and bellowed "ho-ho-ho, ha-ha" in unison, making it seem a little more like a protest than a joyous celebration. (If so, it would have been the happiest protest in history.) Check out some footage of the first World Laughter Day below.

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