Five fantastic podcasts to amuse you

Last updated 05:00 27/01/2014
aisha tyler
MAYBE YOU KNOW HER?: Aisha Tyler, host of the podcast Girl on Guy.

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I have a brother who makes a rather decent living as a music reviewer. Unfortunately, he inherited not just the writing ability in the family but also all the musical taste. On the plus side, I'm way fatter than he is.

My iPod is full of the songs that appear on other people's guilty pleasure or 'ironic' lists. I've had the same favourites playlist going on every car trip for the past 10 years.

Sure, I appreciate the ability of music to inspire, set the mood and generate an emotional response, but for me it's mainly a background noise rather than something I actively listen too.

This can be a problem. When I started walking to work years ago I quickly got bored of the music and felt my mind wandering to other things. Those other things were usually the things I had to do when I got to work.

If only there was something I could actively listen to as I walked, something funny, something interesting, something a lot like a podcast.

A podcast is an episodic audio (or video if you're flash) file that can be downloaded or streamed to a computer or media device, and there are millions of them.

That's the great thing about them, no matter what your interests or tastes, there will be something for you.

These are five of my favourites:

The Nerdist Podcast

Hosted by the hugely funny Chris Hardwick and often a couple of his mates, this is an hour-long rambling conversation with some of the world's leading actors, musicians and comedians. There are more than 300 episodes with guests ranging from Tom Hanks, a combined Eric Idle, Billy Connolly, Eddie Izzard episode (naturally hilarious) and unexpected highlights - who'd have thought wrestler CM Punk would be so witty? It's laugh-out-loud funny.

Friday night comedy from Radio 4

Two shows in one here. Half the time it's The News Quiz hosted by Sandi Toksvig. It has the same sort of feel as QI complete with classy wit and pointless scoring. Being BBC it naturally has a UK focus (so you may not know some of the people) but pretty much all of it is just plain funny. The rest of the time the podcast is The Now Show - topical British news items incorporated into songs and skits, it's less funny than The News Quiz but still a good 30 minutes entertainment.

Girl on Guy with Aisha Tyler

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You may know Aisha Tyler as the only ever black girl on Friends, or the voice of Lana on the awesome animated show Archer, or the host of the latest season of Whose Line Is It Anyway? or most likely you've never heard of her. Weirdly I saw her on an episode of Rove in LA and have been listening to her podcast since then.

She's a stand up comic, a foodie and a very smart and funny person to listen to. She has the odd famous person such as Chris Rock or Anthony Bourdain but it's the semi-famous guests that often turn out to be the best episodes.

Hollywood Babble-On

One of the first podcasts I got into, this is a weekly hour-plus show from writer/director Kevin Smith (best known for Clerks) and US radio personality/actor Ralph Garman (best known for yelling "damn you, Sharktopus!" in the film Sharktopus).

More like a TV show than the other podcasts mentioned, it features segments (complete with musical tags) dealing with the going ons in Hollywood including geek news, movie blunders and the slagging off of Justin Bieber/Lindsey Lohan/Kim Kardashian. There's something oddly relaxing about a drunk  Garman ripping into various celebrities while Smith defends them.

The smartest man in the world

This modestly named show is from the great improviser/comic Gregg Proops, perhaps best known from the old Whose Line Is It Anyway? And smart he is. There are no guests here, just him talking to an audience on various topics of interest usually sourced from news items of the week. Staunchly feminist and hugely leftist it won't be everyone's cup of tea but it's always interesting and funny.

So there's some of my favorites, all available free if you want to check them out. 

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