“He’s a bobsleigher… is that right, Bobsleigher? Bobsledder?”
“No, you were right the first time, he’s a slayer of Bobs.”
“But some of my best friends are Bobs! The monster!”
Where else could you hear such unfettered gold, but on a podcast?
I’ve co-run my podcast, Back Seat Coaches, for going on two years now. 175 episodes later, have I learnt anything? Have I discovered the gold at the end of the rainbow? Have I hit the big time like all of my heroes?
In short, no.
But really, that’s not what podcasting is about.
When we started the show, I had these grand notions of mega-stardom, of being the next Joe Rogan, or Kevin Smith or Alan Radiolab, but I think even then I was aware that there was very little chance of that. But what I’ve come to realise in doing the show is that not only is it astronomically odds against that you’ll blow up, I’d also rather be hit round the head with a bathtub.
The few times I’ve been confronted in public by listeners (and yes, we do have a few that aren’t just my mum. One’s even from America. So ner.) it honestly scared the shit out of me. One time it was on a text chain for a meetup at my co-hosts house, and one of the guys who was also coming spouted one of my inimitably hilarious catchphrases. I was on edge. I had to text the host’s girlfriend separately to make sure I wasn’t about to be mobbed. I wore dark sunglasses the entire week after. The Sun wouldn’t leave me alone… although that was for different reasons it turned out.
Truth is, I’m not cut out to be a celebrity. I have a hard time acknowledging my own shortcomings or successes – I prefer to sit in peace and take the mickey out of multi-millionaires, deflecting any semblance of spotlight back towards them. And thankfully, that’s exactly what podcasting allows me to do.
The beauty of podcasting is in its unreserved freedom. To make a podcast, all you actually need is a device which can record audio and an internet connection. And these days both of those are rights enshrined by the geneva convention.
What that means is that there’s a podcast for literally whatever you could possibly want. Are you a fan of surreal humour and football? Bob Mortimer’s got you covered. Are you a liberal hating Inuit conservative with a foot fetish? There’s a pod for that. Are you a toad in a dress masquerading as Sigourney Weaver? Well, I haven’t heard it yet, but there’ll be one out there I’m sure. And you know what the best thing is, my amphibian friend? If there’s not, there soon will be, because you’re going to make it.
And whatever you make, there will be listeners. Not in their trillions, like I once envisioned, but in their tens probably. Hundreds maybe. Thousands… well, get the dark glasses out is my advice.
But where there are listeners, there is community. Although at the time it weirded me out and made me want to hide in the understairs cupboard, hearing from a guy I didn’t know that he listened to every episode and loved bits of the show we’d recorded felt awesome. And I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some other podcasters whose shows I’ve enjoyed as well, and, despite this being a very un-british thing of me to do, I… welcomed them into my country with open arms. Oh no, wait, I mean, I told them they were awesome. Because the joy isn’t in being told that a million times – that becomes white noise. The actual joy is being told that once, by someone in real life, as an offhand comment. In such a way as to say “well, you already know this”.
Which I do, of course.
Back Seat Coaches can be found hiding in your favourite podcast app, at www.backseatcoaches.co.uk, or you can find clips on YouTube at https://bit.ly/2U89rRF. They also welcome submissions or guest appearances – email them at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any bright ideas, or if you just want to tell them they’re awesome. Remember to be offhand.