Posts tagged ‘Maximum Fun’

May 22, 2015

brunchtime

DanHelen2
In the new Allusionist episode, I teamed up with Dan Pashman from The Sporkful, one of my favourite podcasts, to consider the semantics of brunch. He also taught me a breakfast-architecture technique known as ‘the porklift’. Find out more about the episode at theallusionist.org/brunch, and you can hear more of my conversation with Dan on this recent Sporkful episode. My capacity for pedantry pales in comparison to Dan’s! Must. Try. Harder.

I was on this episode of a new Radio 4 comedy panel show, Best Behaviour, with Holly Walsh, Richard Herring and Lloyd Langford. It’s all about manners, which I wouldn’t say were my strong point, but my mum listened and approved, so PHEW.

I’m also on this recent episode of International Waters with Dave Holmes, Arnab Chanda, Paul Provenza and Brigid Ryan. We recorded very soon after the general election, so you may feel Arnab and I were slightly forlorn in our defence of the UK. On the subject of Maximum Fun – I’ll be attending my first MaxFunCon this year, so if you’re going to be there too, please come and say hello! And sign up for one of my group therapy sessions if you fancy airing any of your problems and questions.

Finally: listen out for me on the News Quiz on Radio 4 next Friday at 6.30pm!

February 9, 2015

Sound Women swansong

Sad times: I’m retiring from the Sound Women podcast. Here is my swansong episode, aptly about podcasting, in which I talk to Theresa Thorn of the very entertaining One Bad Mother, and my new Radiotopian overlord Roman Mars.

I admit, mixed messages ensue. We’re not lying when we say that podcasting is easy; it is not difficult to start podcasting, as the tech and financial outlay are both pretty manageable. (My beginners’ guide to podcasting is here, as proof.) The difficult thing is keeping a podcast going, and for me to be able to make The Allusionist and keep making Answer Me This, something had to give.

I met some fantastic people over the nearly two years of making Sound Women, whom you can hear on the episodes at soundcloud.com/soundwomen or on iTunes.

Recently I’ve really been enjoying meeting other podcasters, especially through the Support Group gatherings. I’m naturally quite a solitary, antisocial person, but podcasting can be such a lonely pursuit and it was so many years before I knew any other podcasters, that now I’m pathetically excited when I meet other podcasters: “Hey colleague! Let’s talk BUSINESS!!”

A few days ago I was tweeted by Australian podcaster and comedian Alice Fraser, who said she was in London for a few days. We sat in a cafe and chatted for her podcast Tea With Alice, and I’m very glad I hauled myself out of my editing-hole and went; she is a really fascinating person. I wish I’d been recording what she was talking about before she switched the mics on so you could hear it. Anyway, look/listen out for her.

Finally, here’s the latest Answer Me This, in which we learn about coconuts, Grumpy Cat’s finances and Femidoms:

December 10, 2014

Sound Women Podcast: be smiley for Jo Whiley

iTunes best of 2014
Well, this is nice – firstly, Answer Me This! being a ‘classic’ in iTunes’s best of 2014, which both flatters our little home-made show, and makes me feel very old and Roger Moore-ish. Secondly, I’m absolutely delighted to see the brilliant No Such Thing As a Fish being dubbed iTunes’s best new show of 2014 (and this has been a GREAT year for new shows, including Pitch, Criminal, Death, Sex & Money, and of course the juggernaut that is Serial).

I appear on episode 27 of No Such Thing As a Fish, by the way, but don’t let that put you off.

And now for a parade of shows I’ve been doing lately:

On the fun history podcast Z List Dead List, I talk about Dr Wilhelm Fliess, Sigmund Freud’s best frenemy; and on She Podcasts, I bang on about podcasting and radio and stuff like that. Which [UPDATED TO ADD] is also what I do on the 200th episode of the Wired podcast.

This month’s Sound Women podcast features Jo Whiley:

I guest hosted the Media Podcast special from the Women in Film and TV awards. I got to meet Sue Perkins and Jon Snow!

And I’m on the new International Waters, along with Simon Kane, Jackie Kashian, Brian Fernandes and host Dave Holmes, AND a very festive hit from New Kids on the Block. Prepare yourself for a funky funky Christmas:

Finally, if you would prefer a funny Christmas to a funky Christmas, may I suggest the Answer Me This! Christmas? Further information about the contents is here, as well as links to buy it for a very trifling price; and now is the time of year for it. I anticipate April will NOT be the time.

June 5, 2014

Deserts and Waters

On this month’s Sound Women podcast: it’s only the magnificent Fi Glover! One of my favourite ladies of radio. She talks of the virtues of BLOODY HARD WORK, going for it when you’re young enough to bounce back, and Fanny Trollope. The show is available on iTunes and SoundCloud; make me happy and listen to it:

Dan Tetsell and I joined forces to take on the might of the USA in International Waters. UK-US relations were redefined for the ages.

I’m also on the new episode of Desert Isolation Discs. It’s a bit – ok a lot – like Desert Island Discs, and as it’s the closest I’m likely to get to being on Desert Island Discs, I took the process VERY seriously. http://shadowplayboys.podbean.com/

And finally, in today’s audiodump: my friend Leila Johnston from Shift Run Stop has started a Hack Circus podcast, for which she and I (and her dog, whom you might be able to hear trying to pull the table over) met up in a pub and had a big old chat. It’s on iTunes or not-iTunes. Or right here:

The rest is silence.

May 9, 2014

podcasters on podcasting

It was an absolute joy interviewing so many great podcasters for Olly’s and my BBC Radio 4 documentary Podcasting: The First Ten Years. It was not such a joy having to cut down the many sage and inspiring things they said to tiny soundbites, because 56 minutes of airtime are very quickly filled. So here are full-length versions of several of the interviews I did, in case you are particularly interested in podcasters talking shop.

I’d get squirrelly if I didn’t sit down and talk to people once or twice a week. I would be accosting people in the street if I wasn’t doing the podcast.


I don’t mind telling you I was really quite intimidated to speak to Marc Maron. How do you interview someone who’s done nearly 500 highly-feted interviews on his own podcast? But he was very pleasant to me, and talked candidly and reflectively about podcasting turning around his career, how it can interfere with his relationships, recreating his own garage in a film studio, and stocking up on tea and biscuits for Iggy Pop.

I don’t want to hear about rimming in the airport at 8am.


We’d all agree with Dan Savage there. The eminent sex columnist and campaigner was writing Savage Love before Google existed, so he was effectively the search engine for all sexual problems and proclivities. The column branched out into a podcast, and Dan says: “I used to think of column as most important thing and the podcast was a side-gig, but now it’s the other way round: the podcast is much more important than the column.” Dan describes the intimacy of talking right into people’s ears while they go about their business, having to be a perfect child, and never being shocked by listeners “because I figure, if it exists, someone somewhere is effing it.”

A podcast is just a stretch of time with audio in it, and you can do whatever you want within that stretch of time; so I’d like to hear people doing whatever they want within that stretch of time.


Since it began less than two years ago, Welcome To Night Vale has been a phenomenal success, and when I spoke with its creators and writers, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, I understood why. They wanted to make a podcast that wasn’t like any other podcasts that they’d ever heard, because those already existed. Mission resoundly accomplished.

Fun fact: one of the Night Vale guys had never used Skype before we did this interview, so by forcing him to get it, I felt like one of the bad kids in the playground giving him his first cigarette. I hope I didn’t start him on a slippery slope to…I dunno, Snapchat?

Now, there are about five steps too many to get a podcast.


This was the third time I’ve interviewed Roman Mars and since we met at SXSW last year, we’ve also become real-life pals. I’d love for him to teach me everything he knows, but I suspect that’s what everyone wants from Roman. At least I can benefit from his wisdom dispensed here. He talks about the necessity of podcasters putting in the effort, his record-breaking Kickstarter campaigns having to justify spending time away from his family, the socialist principles behind the Radiotopia collective, and how 99% Invisible fans are willing to fund the show but NOT to hear Roman swear at the dead.

The whole plan was for me to support the family by being a lawyer and Jesse would make his adorable little public radio show and podcast and pay some of the bills that way. Instead now I work for the company and we’re trying to pay off my law school debt!


But thank goodness things did turn out that way for Theresa Thorn and her husband Jesse, otherwise the rest of us wouldn’t get to enjoy the fruits of the Thorns’ podcasting empire Maximum Fun. Theresa’s podcast One Bad Mother is absolutely charming, even if like me you’re not particularly interested in parenting; she tells me about oversharing, having babies to beget podcast material, and MaxFunFans bonding with each other in real life.

Did I expect to be in for an interesting ride? Yes. Am I amazed to be still on that ride? Yes.


I have a lot for which to be grateful/ungrateful to Ewan Spence, because without him I might never have become a podcaster at all. And then where would I be? (A: still working on my own in my living room most of the time.) Being interviewed by Ewan for a podcast way back in 2006 was what gave Olly the idea to start a podcast with me.
Ewan talks about how he came to be Scotland’s first podcaster, and subsequently the Edinburgh Fringe podcaster and THE Eurovision Song Contest podcaster – he’s out there backstage in Copenhagen right now!

Keith loves the fans so much, he married one!


Keith and the Girl have such hardcore fans, there are more than 130 KATG tattoos and counting – and even a few horrific-sounding (and looking) FLESH BRANDINGS. Frankly I’m relieved that Answer Me This! fans are comparatively restrained in their affections… I don’t know how Keith and Chemda manage to do a podcast DAILY – they even released an episode on the day their romantic relationship came to an end – but I’m glad they do: they’re very frank, funny and smart.

Podcasting became this opportunity to try something different, something new, see what worked.


I dragged Chris Skinner out of a post-knee-operation cloud of anaesthesia to talk about making some of Britain’s earliest podcasts, as well as The Game, the Dave Gorman podcast, and my brother’s podcast The Bugle. Speaking of which…

The internet is the 21st-century equivalent of shouting at traffic.


It was a bit weird interviewing my brother Andy, so naturally I asked him about the sibling rivalry that everybody assumes plagues us. He and his Bugle co-host John Oliver speak about relishing the complete creative freedom of podcasts, making each other laugh, and how Listeners paying for podcasts is “like higher rate taxation: voluntary, but if you’re feeling philanthropic you might want to do it.” Afterwards Andy said he and John had never actually talked to each other about most of the things I asked them about in the interview, so it was nice for him to find out why John wants to carry on doing the podcast even though he’s now Big Johnny Showbiz. (Apparently the contract for his new gig specifies that he is allowed to continue Bugling, you’ll be relieved to know.)

The whole playlist:

September 18, 2013

impending live events

Next week I shall be leaving the house TWICE to participate in live events. Yes! Assuming I can remember where the front door is.

On Wednesday 25th September, I’ll be taking part in a Radio Academy event all about making audio comedy. It’s at the Phoenix on Cavendish Square in central London and will also feature comedy writer-presenters Gareth Gwynn and Jon Holmes, and radio and podcast producers Colin Anderson and Ben Walker. For more information and tickets, CLICK HERE.

Then on Thursday 26th September, I’ll pop up in Brighton at Jo Neary and Friends at the Caroline of Brunswick on Ditchling St, a hop and a step from Brighton railway station. I’ll be presenting a slideshow about my collection of sexist, racist mid-20th century cookbooks. Of course you need to see this, especially as tickets are only £3. CLICK HERE for details of the gig.
[UPDATE: alas I can no longer do the gig. But there’s a terrific line-up so you won’t miss me at all.]

Another event I did in late August, the live recording of Jordan Jesse Go!, is now available as a podcast HERE.