It would be foolish not to start off the Week in Review for last week without mentioning the return of the most popular podcast of all time, Serial. The show’s new season, which has been the source of leaks and speculation for months, finally kicked off last Thursday, and with it, the podcasting world went into a frenzy. If you’re not jumping in on the frenzy, or if you just burned through Serial’s first episode, don’t worry. There was plenty more to listen to from the podcast universe.
I don’t need to tell you that Serial is back for its second season. Chances are, you’ve already listened to the first episode. If you haven’t and are wondering what all the fuss is about, here’s the short summary. This season, Serial has gone from bringing to light the little known story of Adnan Syed to unwrapping the mysterious, but very well-known case of Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier who left his post in Afghanistan only to be captured and held by the Taliban for five years. In her the first show of the new season, host Sarah Koenig set up the story and the scene, discussing the conditions at Bergdahl’s outpost in Afghanistan and his version of the events that led to his capture. Bergdahl didn’t speak with Koenig directly, but did speak with filmmaker Mark Boal, who recorded their conversations. Koenig is working with Boal on this new season, using those recordings with Bergdahl’s permission to fill in Bergdahl’s version of events. Though the story is well known, the Serial treatment promises to go deeper into it and view it from a wider perspective than previous coverage. Next up, Koenig tells another side of Bergdahl’s capture–this time, straight from the Taliban themselves.
Last week’s Mortified Podcast was dedicated to all the sensitive boys out there. The episode featured readings from two storytellers who read from their boyhood writings about love and heartbreak. The entries are dripping with all the drama, confusion and angst you’d expect, including one journal entry that featured the stain of an actual teardrop on the page, circled to note it was real. After the readings, in a Mortified first, the band Chvrches performed a song written by one of the performers, Nat, when he was in high school. The song is titled “Laurel” after a high school crush of Nat’s, and Chvrches makes it sound like a song that absolutely belongs in any sensitive boy’s music collection. Host Neil Katcher noted that this new segment will be known as “The Mortified Muse,” and after hearing the first installment, you’ll be left wanting more.
Alec Baldwin sat down with Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon on last week’s episode of Here’s the Thing. Baldwin spoke with Fallon about his comedy roots, starting with the impressions he did for friends and family as a boy all the way through to his audition for Saturday Night Live. Baldwin also spoke with Fallon about getting the Tonight Show job and Fallon’s decision to bring it back to New York. Fallon is his typical charming self in the interview, and if you find yourself wondering if his easy-going, aw-shucks persona is for real, Baldwin confirms it as he gushes over Fallon throughout the interview.
With the beginning of Hanukkah last week came a new show about Judaism called The Kibitz. If you’re picturing hour-long readings from the Torah, think again. The Kibitz is hosted by journalist, musician, and former professional air guitarist Dan Crane, who is Jewish but admits to knowing very little about Judaism. He’s using the podcast to explore the religion, starting in the first episode with Hanukkah. From eating latkes to talking with the Kasher brothers, Moshe the comedian and David the rabbi, Crane covered big and small questions about the Jewish holiday. Maybe the most entertaining segment featured the characters Ronna and Beverly (played by comedians Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo) receiving advice from callers including Crane’s 95-year-old “Nana.” If that wasn’t enough, the show also featured appearances by the Sklar brothers, writer Joel Stein and more. Hanukkah may be ending, but The Kibitz is only just getting started.
Comedy podcast connoisseurs know the name Paul F. Tompkins very well. He’s a comedian, actor, TV host, and a regular podcast visitor and host. He currently hosts the show Spontaneanation, has made over 100 appearances on Comedy Bang! Bang!, and previously hosted for my money the best comedy podcast to recorded date: The Pod F. Tompkast. Midroll Media CEO and Wolf Den host Adam Sachs talked with Tompkins about his career, his love of podcasts, and the differences between The Pod F. Tompkast and Spontaneanation. The interview is a nice personal glimpse at a personality you may feel like you already know.