🥇The best thing I've heard in awhile 👄 a bilingual series 🤖 bot love 👯♀️ a tale of two sisters🫀trailer madness 🚍
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Today is Monday, February 20. There are 80 days until my next Disney cruise. In case this email is too long, one of the best things I have ever heard here, a celebrity podcast too good to be a celebrity podcast here, a podcast about podcast trailers hosted by someone I love here.
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Sam Martin & Amy Hoggart
Sam Martin and Amy Hoggart are the hosts of FeMANism. Follow Sam on Twitter here, Amy on Twitter here, FeMANism on Twitter here.
Describe FeMANism in ten words or less.
Amy: Two female comedians parodying dumb men who think they're feminist
Describe the characters you play. How are they different, what do they each bring to the table?
Amy: Jamie is a self-described big-shot, high-flying TV producer who in his free time supports every single football team in Britain and watches a lot of porn. He's an arrogant alpha male with absolutely no self-awareness. Unable to see, for instance, that the fact that he's under investigation after allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace might undermine his feminist podcast. But he IS hoping that saying he's a feminist could help him get laid. Jamie's a mix of lots of different men we've met and also worked with in TV -- the type that's so confident and privileged, they're impossible to bring down. So I'd say that the main thing he brings to the table is the catharsis it brings us to dream up bad things happening to him.
Sam: Sam just wants recognition, he wants to be seen as special but unfortunately he hasn’t done anything in his life to warrant that. Being a feminist allows him to feel morally superior without actually having to do anything- because I don’t know if anyone has noticed but he’s not very well informed. He’s a wife-guy and uses being a father when it suits him but he’s also deeply resentful of his family because they don’t see him as the hero he thinks he is. I love the reveal of this as we go through the series, it even feels a little sad, despite Sam being totally to blame for it all. I also love how Sam can’t believe his luck at having Jamie around so much when Jamie is so horrible to him. In Sam’s head he’s always winning but it’s a house of cards that could topple at any second.
What is your relationship like, the two of you, as comedians?
Amy: We met when we wrote a show together called Almost Royal on BBC America, which was a similar mix of improvised and scripted. Then we just stayed friends and kept working together! It's lovely because as well as making each other laugh, it's a very supportive relationship. No one is domineering or keen to be the star or pushing their own jokes too much. We prioritise ensuring that the other one is happy and we really trust each other. When she's not making me laugh, Sam gives the best, almost sage-like advice, and makes the best coffee. I go and stay with her and her dog, Geoffrey every time I'm back in the UK.
Sam: What Amy is describing is Hoggfest. We have it every year and it’s bigger than Christmas in my house. I love working with Amy and I’m happy that I’ve been able to do it so often over the years. FeMANism is my first time performing but I’ve never had to think about that too much because it’s felt so relaxed and supportive. Amy is a really good friend, sort of by trade. I think at last count she has around 4,500 but you can guarantee she’d find time to make a podcast with almost all of them- I don’t know how exactly but she’s very organised.
Who are you? This isn’t your full-time job, what else do you do?
Amy: We're both writers and comedians. Plus Sam is also an acupuncturist and Amy is training to be a doula.
What do you hope the show does for people?
Sam: We hope it makes women laugh and know they aren’t alone in their frustrations and fears. We hope that humour of this variety feels powerful- especially as comedy can be such a male-dominated sphere. The funny thing is that we’ve found it resonates a lot more with men than we’d expected. That feels good because it shows there are men out there who enjoy seeing themselves sent up in this way… without the need to threaten us with any kind of sexual violence. Progress!
Did any podcasts serve as inspiration for FeMANism?
Amy: All of the podcasts where it’s just two men loving the sound of their own voices and thinking the world needs to hear their opinions. Nothing specific/litigious….
How did the idea evolve? How different is the podcast than it was when you initially dreamed it up?
Amy: I asked one day whether it would be funny if two white, male friends decided to be the first EVER podcast hosted by two white, male friends and Sam said that it might be funnier if they were mansplaining feminism. Then off we went. I think we thought of the title immediately too. Most projects I've worked on have taken forever to develop and even longer to name and this one was disarmingly quick. We made a teaser which got interest from producers and though I'd say it's improved with time, I don't think much has changed since the initial idea.
Sam: Our producer is Matt Lamont who we also met on Almost Royal. Luckily he’d started producing podcasts along with Scott Edwards (together they run a podcast company called Podmonkey) and they really got the idea and made it sound the right level of good and lame.
What was the initial response? Did most people understand that you were two women slowing down the audio to sound like men? (I did not!)
Sam: To us it seems unbelievable that we could actually be mistaken for men. Amy/Jamie sounds ridiculous to me but I think the alpha tone is so spot on that it sells. Weirdly I think Sam does sound like the type of man he’s parodying, gentle and also self-important. We had a few people experiment on their female partners at the start, they’d tell them to listen without telling them we were women and every single one of them hated us. Then they were told we’re women with voices pitch shifted and they listened again, able to enjoy it! People responded well to the first series, not in great numbers but those who listened to one episode tended to listen to them all and we really appreciated that.
Do you ever break character and just lose it from laughing while you’re recording?
Amy: Yes. Any time Sam brings up hemorrhoids I always lose it. But our soundtracks are separated so we can laugh at what the other is saying.
Sam: There’s an episode that’s just about to come out where Jamie is crying and talking about football but clearly he’s not talking about football at all. I couldn’t even be in Amy’s eye-line for it. I think I lay on the floor off camera so she could do it uninterrupted.
Do you imagine FeMANism will have a long term arc, where people should listen in order and follow the story? Or do you think people can pop in and out to any episode?
Sam: I think it can work either way- you’re not missing anything vital but if you listen to the series we have definite arcs, Jamie revealing over time why he’s not at work and Sam really messing up his wife’s cycle tracking are stories that feel more satisfying if you’ve heard them all.
Do you think podcasting is a healthy place for women creators?
Sam: I think Amy would agree that podcasting has been the most painless process we’ve encountered because there are no gatekeepers. We thought of the idea and then we made it. It’s so different from the TV pitching world that we’re used to, where you have to do so much work just to convince someone you’re worth taking a risk on. I think particularly for women podcasting is liberating because you don’t need anyone’s say so to do it. We need spaces where it’s possible to think like that.
Are you podcast listeners?
Sam: I’m probably more of a self-help podcast listener- it’s my perfect bit of me-time. I got quite into Pulling the Thread with Elise Loehnen, she has great guests but I also love The No Contact Club which is a pair of New Zealander sisters talking so much sense about family dynamics. In terms of comedy though we both love Joan and Jericha and The Beef and Dairy Network, which are quite off-the-wall.
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
I know I am constantly doing cartwheels about podcasts I love (w/emoji only, I can’t do a real one) but I rarely come out so strongly to say after listening to something new that it’s one of the best things I’ve ever heard. I’m saying it now, about You Didn’t See Nothin, where Yohance Lacour brings us to a 1997 hate crime that took place on the South Side of Chicago and changed his life forever. He takes us back to the day of the attack when he was in his early 20s, writing plays, selling weed, and living with his dad when the terrible media coverage of the attack drove him to take things in his own hands, working with a local neighborhood newspaper to investigate the crime. After a 10-years in prison, Yohance is back in Chicago, bringing a new perspective with archival audio and new interviews with those involved. Yohance tells this story in an animated, poetic way that makes you feel like you’re inside a pop-up book. The story is a mix of true-crime investigation (a genre I think we need to just start calling “police negligence,”) personal memoir, and some of the best narration I’ve ever heard, and it’s winning in every single one of those categories. Yohance steps into this show boldly, within seconds you want to hear what he has to say, and he has quite the story to tell.
✨ My recent Lifehacker piece: 12 of the Best Podcasts Celebrating Black History and Culture
✨Feed the Queue, the podcast discovery podcast I co-host with Adela Mizrachi of Podcast Brunch Club, featured an episode of FeMANism. (From Amy and Sam above.) Listen here.
✨Arielle Nissenblatt spotlighted Bear Brook in her newsletter and podcast.
🎟️ On Air Fest is the premier cultural event for audio creatives and inspired listeners. It brings together an expansive range of emerging and established voices to explore the creative possibilities of sound. On Air Fest carves a place for artists and storytellers who are defining this moment in audio. Get a ticket. (Includes ticket to Podcast Experience.)
🎟️ On Air: The Podcast Experience features multiple rooms at Wythe Hotel taken over by a collection of podcasts and their creators. Drawing inspiration from open studio tours and immersive theater, each curated space will envelop visitors in the world of a single podcast designed to spark imagination, delight and discovery. With rooms designed by My Favorite Murder and the Exactly Right Network, On Being Project, The Heart and more to be announced, On Air: The Podcast Experience runs from Feb 23-26. Get a ticket.
✨Call 1-844-POD-AT-ME (1-844-763-2863) to hear a daily podcast recommendation, and leave your own recommendation at the beep! You can suggest your own show so this is a great way to market your show. Don’t worry, we won’t answer the phone! (We know calling random numbers can be terrifying.)
🎙️Some people (like me) will scroll over podcasts hosted by celebrities. (Though I think we can all agree that Storytime with Seth Rogen was flawless.) I Am America is hosted by Tracee Ellis Ross, but don’t be fooled…it’s gorgeous. Tracee is telling stories of regular people unpacking aspects of their identity in the face of societal pressures who, in the process, create space for others to do the same. The producer, Nichole Hill (The Secret Adventures of Black People, which I have compared to The Heart) pointed out that it’s this hybrid model—a big name supporting quality storytelling—that can be a way to make podcasts that both attract ad dollars and tell strong narratives at the same time. I enjoyed all three episodes I listened to, but the first one, about a man who starts a garden for an elementary school in Harlem, is a feel-good story that will absolutely put a smile on your face. Turn it on in a moment you’re feeling cynical about the world. This story illustrates that even though there are a lot of bad and scary shit happening out there, there are good people doing good things in their communities, making an impact on individual lives and making the world a better place. I Am America is a plea for us all to do the same. Listen here.
🎙️In extremely cool news, Spotify has partnered with Ochenta Studios (<3 Lory Martinez) for the first-ever bilingual series, La Cabina Telefonica, about a little shop in Queens in the 90s where Latin American immigrants come to call their families home. Each episode features a seven-minute phone call between a neighbor and someone important in their life. In those calls, we experience the triumph, pain, and laughter of a diverse group of Latino immigrants in 1990s New York. It’s blended in language the same way Spanish and English are blended in so many Latino families, making it among the most authentic, innovative way to tell stories. Lory says it was inspired by her own memories of Cabina Telefonicas (phone calling centers) in Jackson Heights, Queens, and is reminiscent to her brilliant based-on-real-life piece Mija, which has always been a personal favorite. The entire concept also reminds me of the first episodes of one of my favorite shows teikirisi, ¡oigo!, which chronicles what it was like for hosts Carmen and Fryda to call Cuba from America, and the ways they tried to connect with their families from afar. Listen to La Cabina Telefonica here.
🎙️Ivy Le is back with another season of FOGO (Fear Of Going Out)—this time she’s armed. (The new season is about hunting. Or, as Ivy puts it, muskets, firearms, and bows and arrows in Lizzo’s century.) Ivy immersing herself into the gun world (literally, she’s not just reporting, she’s bringing us into the woods with her) is comedy gold, and it ends up being a smart, uncomfortable piece about gun culture. The episode Land Back contains a real mind fuck. Ivy talks about the racist history of the anti-gun movement, and how white supremacy is why so many marginalized groups of people needed to be armed in the first place. I’m excited to see what Ivy discovers on this dangerous, ugly mission. I do not admire her. Hunting is something we all should know more about. (I’m definitely learning something new. I never thought I’d be someone who knew why you should never dry fire a bow or what a whisker biscuit is.) For the millionth time I will remind you that I’ve been a vegetarian for more than 30 years and have far more appreciation for hunters than you think. Anyone who poo-poos hunters but eats meat confuses me. But as Ivy points out, people have no idea why they do what they do. Listen here.
🎙️I was excited to see Let’s Make a Sci-Fi back, and doubly excited to see that this time around, Maddy, Mark, and Ryan are writing a rom-com. This podcast is so much fun it’s almost unfair. On the first episode, the hosts brainstorm idea for the rom-com they’re about to write (with the help of talented writers and directors in episodes to come.) One guests outlines the arc of a good rom com to the point that you could follow along and write one on your own. (I’m saving this for when I write the rom-com I've been dreaming up, of a delusional woman in NYC who believes she’s in a relationship but she’s not.) The LMARC team arrives at an idea that is absolutely perfect—so weird and specific that it might just be able to work. Listen here.
🎙️I don’t listen to as much fiction as I’d like, and because I’m so used to non-fiction, I have to admit that sometimes turning on a fiction show feels like work. Even if I end up loving it, switching genres takes a little bit of extra energy. I did not feel this way with listening to Private Affairs, the romantic-dramedy show from Christine “Kix” Mwaturura about Vee, a Zimbabwean expat, and her Australian boyfriend Luke, and their interracial relationship. The first season was great, season two is here, and I effortlessly downed the first episode, already so reinvested in the story, which opens up with Vee’s 30th birthday trip to Thailand. It’s so well written and acted my brain is completely tricked into thinking I’m listening to real conversations, and I feel myself choosing sides, getting pulled into the plot, and identifying with different characters, treating them as real people in my mind. The vibe is a lot like one of my favorite TV shows, Insecure, and if it was a TV show, it would give Insecure a run for its money. Listen here.
🎙️I always will listen to something that features Disney World, The Donner Party, Jesus, and J Dilla. But also Todd Rundgren. So I nearly wet my drawers when I saw that Jesse Thorne published a sweet, beautiful little episode interviewing Todd about the song that changed his life. (I love this series in general.) Todd picked Louie Louie, which is a song with a wild story of its own. You can listen to one of my favorite podcast episodes ever about Louie Louie on Lost Notes here. That’s all about the history of the song and who actually wrote it. (It’s a doozie. The FBI gets involved.) Todd talks about the genius of the song, its haunting nature, where it has popped up over the years, and what it meant to him, hearing it as a young musician. He also mentions The Chipmunk Song, which made me smile my ass off. Love Todd, Love Jesse, Love Louie Louie, Love this. Listen here.
🎙️Radiotopia Presents produces some of my favorite pieces of audio, and they’ve re recently released Bot Love, which tells the real stories of people who have made meaningful connections with their AI companions, and what this means for the future of relationships and communication. The idea perfectly pairs loneliness and technology, and it’s the product of two people I love, Mark Pagán and Anna Oakes. Anna and her co-host Diego Senior interview people who completely open up about their intimate relationships with AI. It couldn’t have been easy for these storytellers to talk about these bot relationships that seem very real to them. On Bot Love, it feels like they’re telling us a secret. Anna and Diego have the trust of their interviewees and have created an audio series like nothing before. It’s real conversation that sounds like it could be scripted. Put it in the archives to document our struggles to connect in a digital world and the way we use technology to feel loved. Listen here.
🎙️The TMI Project is a podcast of live performances from people who once stepped on a stage (or for one season, on Zoom) to bare their souls and share stories that they’re most scared to tell. It’s really a community of healing through storytelling, and the stories are just as good, if not better, than some of the things you will hear on other huge storytelling shows. The TMI Project, which leads storytelling workshops and has staged live performances by nearly 2,000 storytellers, is mission driven, with seasons dedicated to queer stories, Black stories, stories of reproductive rights, and stories of healing over time. The new season, which just launched, highlights Black trans creators, and the first one spins out a joy-filled story that springs from a tiny moment, one you’ll be able to completely picture in your mind. A lot of shithead racists have logged on to give this show a terrible Apple Podcasts rating for no reason. So go in, listen, and give it the five stars it deserves to even it out. Listen here.
🎙️In the Scenes Behind Plain Sight was one of those rare first seasons where I felt absolutely satisfied and wanted more, but had zero expectations that it’d be back anytime soon. Ian and Mike, go rest! You killed it. Their trailer for season two just dropped and it’s one of the best trailers I’ve ever heard, and I’m excited once again. Listen here.
🎙️Your girl Jackie J (formerly Natch Beaut) was on Ophira Eisenberg’s Parenting is a Joke for a conversation about new motherhood that is sweet, hilarious, and honest. I have been listening to Jackie, your favorite beauty talk shock jock, queen of creams, host with the most serums and the freshest fringe on the west coast, your favorite over 30 niche influencer and kooky Southern aunt talking about creaming necks for years, but getting to hear her talk about being a mom to a newborn was refreshing. Jackie offers parenting tips and gets vulnerable, talks about being a mom and a creator (Ophira says snuck in something I found huge—that being socially unacceptable is what makes art) and gives hope to people who want to be their own kind of mom. A real, authentic mom. Even if you don’t care about mom stuff, listen. This conversation is hilarious. Listen here.
🎙️Trailer Park is a new show from Arielle Nissenblatt and Tim Villegas that accomplishes so many things by highlighting great podcast trailers. If you have a podcast, it’s a learning lesson in what other people are doing and what works (and maybe what doesn’t.) If you’re like me and want to hear new things, it’s a discovery tool. And that also means it’s a marketing tool. You can pitch your own trailer to be featured. Arielle and Tim will walk you through the trailers and sometimes talk to creators. The trailer for Trailer Park is great. Start by checking that out and listen to the first episode here.
🎙️Jo Piazza (Committed, Under the Influence), The Pod Club) reads a surprising stat on the first episode of She Wants More: women are 40% more likely to have an extramarital affair than they were in the 90s, but the number for men has stayed the same. What’s going on? Jo is finding out. She’s talking to real women of different ages and backgrounds and experts (one outlines four kinds of affairs—Empowering, Self-Esteem, Sexual, Love) to explain what this stat says about how women are evolving in society, and how many women feel like they’re saving their marriages by having an affair. These stories and interviews shed a new light on the freedom affairs can bring, and the ethicality with which they can be done. Listen here.
🎙️When The Heart returned with a new series, Sisters, I felt the world of audio lovers shrieking with delight. Known for their edgy sounds and topics and totally beautiful storytelling, everything they’ve done is the kind of artwork you want to frame on your wall. On Sisters, we’re getting a look into the sibling relationship of Kaitlin (founder of The Heart) and her sister Natalie. With found footage and reimagined conversations from their childhoods. They’re telling the stories that you don’t see if you’d just look at photos of them as kids. It’s a relationship explored from two angles that will tickle your ears—nothing feels quite like it—make you laugh and reevaluate the relationships you’ve had with people for, like, ever. Listen here.
🎙️Sequoia Holmes of Black People Love Paramore hosted an episode with Clarissa Brooks & Hanif Abdurraqib (Lost Notes: 1980, Object of Sound) about Paramore’s new album This Is Why, the first thing the band has put out since 2017. I am not a Paramore fan but liked the new album. It’s almost like Sequoia has been waiting six years to make this episode. Listen here.
🎙️I love you!
From the Archives
[From Oct 24, 2019 ] Skye Pillsbury (The Squeeze) was in the popular group in middle school, but one night her best friends TPed her home and wrote "fuck you" on her garage door. After that night, they never spoke again. 30 years later, for an episode of Heavyweight, Skye and her then 11-year-old son Clark set out to confront the girls, now grown women with children of their own, to find out WHY. It's an excellent story (host Jonathan Goldstein brights so much humor to the piece) but Clark is the star, he's constantly pushing his mom to be more direct and assertive. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for Skye to do this. She has a very kind and sweet nature, and I'm sure she would have been fine putting this incident in her past. She recognizes it is strange for these women to be confronted about something they did 30 years ago. So it's a balancing act for Skye, to seem both polite and understanding and direct and strong in the confrontation of one of the women. This story would have been so different had Clark been left out of the story. I love how much he's included—Jonathan treats him like a producer, and Clark also acts as both mediator for Skye and her ex-friend, and a motivator for Skye. The episode was named best audio documentary by the IDA and it's so deserving of it. My favorite part was picturing Skye, Clark, and Jonathan jumping into a car in San Francisco (I'm picturing a convertible?) to set out on a podcast adventure. Read Skye's interview with Jonathan about the episode on Bello Collective.
This week we’re getting to peek into the listening life of Holly Brown, a stand-up comedian, digital marketer and graphic designer. She was recently named as one of Whohaha’s 2022 Comedians of the Year and has featured for comedians Melissa Villasenor and Eddie Pepitone. Along with marketing for Tink, Holly has worked in digital marketing for award winning restaurants, activist movements and podcasts like the popular Private Parts Unknown.
The app you use to listen: Spotify! I recently switched over from Apple because I was sick of losing my place in an episode. I’m a woman on the go, I have no time for scrolling to find my spot.
What speed do you listen to podcasts? Regular speed. I have OCD, so when I listen at anything higher I start to wonder…is this my brain or the show doing this? (Spoiler alert, it’s both)
How do you discover new shows? I LOVE getting recs from newsletters. Faves are this one, Podcast Bestie, & Earbuds Podcast Collective.
One show you love that everybody loves. Pod Meets World. I am obsessed with rewatch podcasts plus their friendship, 90’s sitcoms and all things FEEENAY!
One show you love that not enough people know about. The Department of Variance of Somewhere, Ohio - It's so surreal, like Severance meets David Lynch with a little more humor.
Hot take: I’m losing it over the amount of pod descriptions that use the line - “This show is about getting comfortable with the uncomfortable”.
Self-care tip: I listen to an educational pod on my morning walks like This Day in History Class or SNAFU to get my brain moving and grooving.
Oh how fun to see that old episode of Heavyweight in here! I love your commentary about my son Clark - he was absolutely the star. ❤️