Podcast Recommendations: Exploring the Creative Process, Part I

I almost always have a giant pair of headphones on.

Hi, all my lovely new friends from the Nerdist podcast—as well as my long-time friends! I'm so glad you're here.

As I mentioned on #126, I'm a big fan of podcasts. Thanks so much for your encouragement about finally jumping off the fence and starting my own podcast. You're peaches, all of you, and I'm working on it. More soon.

In the meantime, each Sunday for the next several weeks, I'll share with you some of my favorite podcasts. I love media of all kinds, but podcasting is my favorite. I grew up listening to talk radio of all kinds: public, talk, radio drama; and while I still enjoy talk radio, podcasts offer delicious freedom from the content control and interruptions that program directors, management, and advertisers place on broadcasters. I can rant on this topic for thousands of words—let's just leave it that I have passion for this topic.

This week, let's focus on the creative process. Longer form podcasts offer a great opportunity to delve into the practices and rhythms that artists employ to stay creatively productive.

Please take Not Safe For Work indicators seriously. The comedy podcasts in particular can get pretty filthy, but it doesn't delegitimize the insights they have to offer on the creative process.

Beginning with the comedy podcasts, there are three that dive deeply into the act of creating.

The Nerdist Podcast (NSFW or children)

Let's start with the show that brought us all together. If you're a newer listener to the show, you may have missed some fantastic content from early in the project.

Episode #2: Drew Carey: Drew is the last of the "overnight" comic success stories from The Tonight Show. His discussion of how he mentally prepared for the show, as well as his detailed knowledge of his set, is an excellent lesson in treating your craft—even if it's comedy—seriously.

Episode #8: Jim Gaffigan: Jim Gaffigan is a favorite at Chateau HolaMindy, and in this episode we get another great behind-the-scenes look into his process. His dedication to keeping it clean and acknowledging his fans after the show is inspiring. Pay attention, too, to how frequently he mentions his wife's contribution to writing his act.

Honorable mention: If you're a Mythbusters fan, you should not miss Adam Savage's first-ever stand-up set in Episode #10 (the set begins 25:00 minutes into the episode and is not for kids). It makes me cry tears of laughter every time I hear it.

WTF with Marc Maron (NSFW or children)

What's your damage? Marc Maron believes that comedy is borne out of deep psychological damage; it's a premise difficult to dispute after listening to a few episodes. It's just Marc and a comic together in a room talking about their wounds, comedy, and how Marc used to be a jerk to his guest "but now we're cool."

Only the most recent 50 episodes are available for free, so don't forget to regularly refresh your feed. All back episodes are available with an inexpensive premium subscription.

Because episodes are always dropping off the free list, I won't point you to a particular one. Jump in anywhere and you'll be good. If you just want to laugh, go for a live show, but if you want a deep exploration of how a lifetime's experiences lead to a particular type of comedy, pick an interview of your favorite comic.

Kevin Pollak's Chat Show (probably NSFW, most are okay for teenagers—the f word surfaces from time to time but not as much as the shows above—although the Larry King game segment can get filthy)

The depth of the interviews here is amazing; most interviews last over an hour, with many pushing up against the two-hour mark. That amount of time gives Kevin and his guest a lot of time to tell stories.

This is a video podcast; the show is streamed live most Sunday afternoons, with the option to download the video or audio version afterward. I go with the audio version for portability and decreased file size, but if you've got the time, go for the video. It's better than nearly everything on television, and it's free (as in beer).

Like Marc's show, just pick your favorite actor and jump in. If you are a true comedy fan, start with the impressionists. Kevin is one of the best impressionists out there and he loves to play with other impressionists.

I particularly enjoyed his interview of Neil Patrick Harris. It's surprisingly serious. Also, if you listen to the Alison Brie episode, he reads a tweet question from @HolaMindy—that's me!

I'll wrap up Part I of our exploration of creative process podcasts here. Stay tuned for Tuesday, when I'll bring you three non-comedy podcasts that delve deeply into the creative process. Until then, get out there and make some cool stuff!