So, I’m not a very happy person.
I think this blog has made that rather clear.
I don’t particularly like being an unhappy person, but it’s just how I am. I’m learning to cope with it, the way a person copes with acne or a receding hairline. Even my best moments are tinged with melancholy. I’ve been this way since puberty hit. It’s just a part of me.
When you’re sad all the time, things that suddenly and unexpectedly jolt you into smiling stand out like flashlights on a moonless night. One of those things for me is the sound of laughter, very specific laughter.
Besides being a sad person, I’m also a lonely person. The situation with that is about the same as the one with the sadness: it’s just a part of me. Since the moment when I graduated high school, well more like the moment when my best friend’s parents, best friend’s sister and I delivered my best friend to college, my loneliness has only intensified. I’m currently learning to make peace with it, but at certain points over the last few years it became so crushing that I just couldn’t stand to be alone anymore. The only problem is that I’m not that great at initiating and maintaining friendships, and even when I do start to hang out with people the wall around my heart refuses to let the warmth of human interaction penetrate to the core of me. Enter podcasts and YouTubers.
The many high school and college age YouTube stars who post videos of themselves just hanging out make you feel like you’re in a conversation with an attractive pop-culture-savvy friend.
The plethora of podcasts being constantly produced and streamed allow you to plug the voices of other humans directly into your ears. It feels like immediate intimacy. What’s better is that you can choose what those humans talk to you about: film, TV, politics, tech, true crime, comic books, standup comedy. It’s like having a super cool, instant friend whose interests align perfectly with yours. Okay, you can’t hug them or talk to them, but it’s better than crying alone in bed (not that I do that. much. shut up!).
The voices of your favorite podcast hosts become familiar and reassuring. They wash over you as you do the dishes, jog, and snuggle into bed at night. You associate their vocals with relaxing or listening enrapt. One of the best parts of letting yourself be totally wrapped up in someone else’s voice is the sound of their laughter.
Laughter in itself is nice to listen to, but there are certain laughs that just catch your attention and spark an answering joy inside of you. You don’t even have to know what the person is laughing about, just the reassuring sound of their chortle cheers you up.
I haven’t done a ton of (or any) listicles yet, but thinking about my favorite podcaster laughs has prompted me to make one. So, here are a few of the laughs that never fail to lighten my cold, dead heart:
1.Crissle West of The Read
Crissle is one half of The Read: a show hosted by two queer black friends living in NYC. Her co-host is Kid Fury. Together they give a hilarious rundown of all the fuckery happening in the world of black pop culture, dole out tough-love life advice to listeners and stick it to racist assholes. I think all white people should be required to listen to at least one episode of The Read. Regular listening can help you qualify for “woke” status. You can hear Crissle’s free-spirited laugh here, on a segment she did for the show Drunk History.
2.PJ Vogt of Reply All
Podcast networks are getting more popular. You’ve probably heard of ones like Earwolf, Panoply, and Maximum Fun. The CNN of the podcasting world seems to be Gimlet Media, and their first show to get really big was Reply All, a show about any and everything having to do with the internet. The show’s deep and engaging reporting on topics from websites that crowdsource diagnoses for medical patients suffering from mystery maladies to how fake locksmiths use Google ads to con people make it fascinating and addictive. The other best part of the show is the relationship between the hosts, the lovable curmudgeon Alex Goldman and the eagerly snarky PJ Vogt. PJ’s laugh is deep, throaty and unapologetic, and it makes me smile every time. You can hear both of their laughs in this clip.
3.Paul Scheer of How Did This Get Made
This is one of the most popular podcasts from the previously mentioned Earwolf network. If you need to cheer up on a rough day, this show is one of your best bets. Paul, his wife, June Diane Raphael, and their friend Jason Mantzoukas are the three hosts. They’re all comedic actors in LA, and they know a thing or two about how ridiculous showbiz can be. That makes them perfectly qualified to pick apart some of the worst movies ever made. Each episode is dedicated to their observations of a god-awful film. You don’t need to have seen the movies to join in on the fun, and most of the time you’ll be glad to have never seen these movies. Paul’s laugh is monotone and steady, and reminds me a bit of Squidward’s laugh on Spongebob Squarepants. His dry laugh reflects the absolute ludicrousness of the terrible acting, writing and special effects that they are witnessing. What makes it better is that Paul is often reacting to Jason Mantzoukas saying something terribly and hilariously raunchy (which seems to be the only kind of things that Jason can say). You can hear Paul’s laugh and a great story about his own experience acting in a bad movie in this interview.
Happy listening, guys!