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pod1209Always a few years behind the curve, I’m finally getting into podcasts. Not many — in fact, very, very few.

I was interviewed by DJ Grothe for the Point of Inquiry podcast last month, a well-produced show from the Center for Inquiry that I listen to once in a while. But when I got an iPod Nano for Father’s Day (poetically so, since my previous one was destroyed by an actual offspring of mine), it wasn’t science and skepticism podcasts I thirstily reloaded. It was comedy.

My almost-fourteen-year-old has had it with my sense of humor. So have I, truthfully, though I’m nicer about it. When I recently made some pointless bit of wordplay, as I do every 45 seconds (see post title), he looked at me with unforgiving eyes and said, “You know what you should do? You should, like, save them up. When something pops into your head, just don’t say it. Save up a hundred, and maybe they’ll add up to one good one. Then you can let that one out.”

I know exactly what he means.

As I’m getting older, I notice that it’s harder to really make me laugh. I see the joke coming, which kills it, or it’s no good to begin with and deserves to die. My standards were lower once. I used to laugh at things just because they were funny. Now, to get a laugh out of me, it has to be (1) funny, (2) smart, and (3) unexpected.

I have tried over thirty new comedy podcasts since Father’s Day, mostly British, which has a much higher success rate with me. Precisely zero hits. I’m still down to just two unsurpassably brilliant weekly podcasts that I’ve listened to for a year, waiting breathlessly for new episodes like the slathering, smart-comedy-starved dog I am:

Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me (The NPR News Quiz)
The News Quiz on BBC Radio 4 (Friday Night Comedy)

(Warning: This second one alternates, four on/four off, with a decent but much less funny BBC program called The Now Show).

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that both are comedy quiz shows based on current events. Like The Daily Show, there’s nothing better when it’s done well, and I never, ever survive either of these shows without being snuck up on, a dozen times at least, by great comedy. And that, along with my wife, my kids, and coconut red curry beef, is just about all I ask of life anymore.

Alrighty then: What podcasts do y’all favor, whether comedy or otherwise? A free plenary indulgence to the first twenty people who turn me on to something ab fab.

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.