Pod-Fascination: Tell Your Friends: An NPR Alternative

Pod-Fascination is a weekly column about podcasts you should be paying attention to.

Tell Your Friends!
Confession: I feel like a should be listening to NPR more than I should be. I want to have that water cooler conversation about This American Life or Fresh Air. But I'm not always into it. Don't get me wrong, I'm the type of person who would understand those shows, but they just are sometimes... boring. There, I said it! Phew, that feels better.

At the same time, there are a lot of comedy podcasts that I have burned out on, mostly because of how self-referential they have become; there's only so much I can listen to a comedian shoot the shit with his comedian friends about their latest audition or their feelings on dating. I mean, on the one hand, isn't calling a podcast "self-absorbed" a pointless venture? It's like calling an artisanal vegan bakery "obnoxious."

That's why I so immensely enjoy the Tell Your Friends podcast. It's like a funnier, more alternative version of NPR. Host and producer Liam McEneaney calls each episode an "issue," like an issue of a magazine, which is the best way to describe it. Each episode includes a variety of formats, including interviews, storytelling, written comedic monologues, and other free-flowing thoughts. Liam McEneany is a longtime staple of the New York comedy scene and therefore has a lot of connections, but seems to value having interesting and engaging guests with a particular story to tell rather than personal friends. Some highlights are comedian Christian Finnegan talking about his experience on an MTV game show and actor Stephen Toblowsky recalling his awful experience on the set of My Father The Hero (yes, the one with the pretend incest between Katherine Heigl and Gerard DePardieu, but I digress). But nothing gets too serious, courtesy of dirty one-liners from notorious twitter personality Stacey Nightmare.

McEneany has the perfect blend of skilled interviewing, intelligence, and self-deprecation. He has the coveted skill (by me) of easily connecting to the interview subject and getting them to share unique anecdotes, and sharing part of his own experiences without overtaking the interview. His opening monologues are often the highlights of the show, which range from pre-written essays to general thoughts on a subject. The Tell Your Friends podcast was created as a companion to his film Tell Your Friends, a concert film of the long-running comedy show in New York that he also produces, which I haven't watched, but certainly plan to very soon.

New episodes are released every Sunday, wherever podcasts are sold. I also highly recommend Liam Mceneany's Twitter feed.

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