April 03, 2018

How I learned to stop worrying and love the podcast, thanks to Brian Quinn and Sal Vulcano

"What podcasts do you listen to?" 

"You've gotta listen to this podcast." 

"Have you listened to such and such podcast?" 

"Want to listen to my podcast?" 

These are some questions my friends have asked me over the last couple years. My answer to each and every one was "no." I don't want to listen to podcasts. I don't have time to listen to podcasts. When I do want to listen to something, it's gonna be Outkast or Tom Petty. The last thing I need to do is listen to some guy in his mom's basement talk about his political theories or movie reviews. I mean, I gave up radio shows when Barnes, Leslie, and Jimmy disbanded because that nearly broke my heart — and that was, like, back in the early 2000s. I don't do podcasts. I don't want to start podcasts. I'm trying to spend less time hooked up to technology, not more. And I'm sick of hearing everyone's opinion on every topic. 

And then March happened. Suddenly, I'm really into podcasts. 

The last month nearly sucked the life out of me. It was as if, from March 1st on, the universe said, "Yesterday was really bad for you, Sarah, but let's make it much worse." My mom's health was the big issue. The second one was that, after six years, I unexpectedly lost my really awesome writing job that was supposed to lead to some big opportunities this year.  Add tornadoes, injuries, scary car trouble, sick dogs, and a guy trying to kill me in the Publix parking lot to the mix, and there were days I contemplated even getting out of bed. 

Fast forward to the 18th of the month, when I had to take my mom to the emergency room for the second time in as many weeks. This led to an eight-night stay at the old county hospital, and because I know from previous experience that she doesn't like to stay there alone, I also spent eight nights in the hospital. In a wooden chair. That didn't recline. With a wadded up sheet for a pillow. I hate to complain because I know people are going through things that are much worse, but it was hard to keep that perspective at the time. 

Long story short. I didn't get much sleep, but I did get pretty bored. There isn't much to do when it's 3 a.m. and you're stuck in a hospital with nothing but a half-charged iPhone, a TV you can't hear, your snoring mother, a Jamaican nurse with a bad attitude, and some major heartburn from your snack machine Funyuns binge. 

I had to save my sanity. For some reason, I tossed around the idea of listening to a podcast. 

I don't know exactly how I landed on what I landed on. I will say my mom watches this show, Impractical Jokers, and after playing nursemaid for her for three weeks straight, I began to watch it, too. Normally, I hate shows like that. I'd never even heard of the channel it was on, but the guys who host it are legitimately talented, clever, and funny. It was refreshing, and it made us both laugh out loud during some pretty dark times.  

So, a couple of the guys from the show — Brian Quinn and Sal Vulcano — do a podcast called "What Say You." I learned this when my mom had me look them up one night to see if they were really "friends from high school," as their TV show implies. As it turns out, they're far more popular than I would have ever guessed. I mean, there are some crazy fans/groupies out there. A few minutes with iTunes looking for something to do eventually got me to "What Say You," so I picked a random older episode and hoped for the best. 

I made a good choice. A perfect choice.  

Aside from a few anecdotes, the podcast has nothing to do with the TV show, but I learned that Quinn and Vulcano are delightful without it. I was looking for something that would allow me to totally escape my situation, as well as something that didn't have political undertones or that wasn't trying to make a huge point about some issue that everyone is pretend-offended about. It's not politically correct. At all. No one's talking down to you or trying to be too over-the-top. And while I think those guys are a little older than I am, they talked about growing up the way I grew up and being exposed to the same things. At the end of the handful of episodes I listened to in the hospital, I felt like I'd just been hanging out, listening to some old friends of mine talk about whatever. 

It was a little bit of calm in the midst of my chaos. I had to stifle my laughter few times, because, as I said, these guys are crazy talented. It kept the hospital from being a lonely place, and you can't ask for more than that from any form of entertainment. 

If you're a podcast virgin, I highly recommend checking it out. It's probably not for everyone, but my humor and hobbies tend to skew away from my demographic. I should also point out that the last episodes were recorded in September 2016 and August 2017, so I don't even think those dudes have time to do it anymore (or they've become too douchey for the little things — hopefully that's not the case). Either way, there are still 70-something there for your listening pleasure. Thankfully, I've only listened to about eight random episodes from 2015, so I have plenty more to go when I need a pick-me-up. 


What's next in my podcast journey, you ask? (Just pretend you did.) Well, Quinn co-hosts another one that's been around for a while called "Tell 'Em Steve-Dave." I haven't had much time to look into that one yet, but it looks like it might be a good fit for me. Plus, I've found him to be a really interesting dude — I think he was even a firefighter for a while. One of my favorite people in the world, Jen Lancaster, is doing a podcast now: "Stories I'd Tell in Bars." My gay cousin is always recommending these true crime shows, and that might be something I can do. But after that, I don't have a game plan, so hit me up with your suggestions. (Please, no politics and no celebrity gossip!) 

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P.S. When I initially wrote this post (yes - I rewrote it because the original was a huge pile of rambling crap — I'm still relearning how to write what I want to write instead of what someone needs me to write on such and such deadline in such and such voice), someone pointed out to me that my friend, Roxy, and I started a podcast a few years ago, and that is true. But that was so long ago, and we had to stop, and I kind of forgot about them after the fact.

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