Dec 15, 2013

Listmania: The Top 10 Best Mini-Podcasts of 2013

To find out more on how I came up with this list, please read the Preamble here.

With a lot of podcasts that have come out in 2013, there have been those that have the hardest time making even the top 100. These are usually relegated to the shows that didn't have quite as much output as many shows that often released a show a day. In order to combat this predicament, I decided to highlight the shows that were great despite releasing less than 5 episodes, or "mini-podcasts." They may have not been as much in discussion or just started late, but these shows deserve as much time as the other ones. So please, enjoy the 10 mini-podcasts that I found noteworthy for 2013.

More than any other show this year, this is the one that I am disappointed hasn't released more episodes (the last one was posted over 10 months ago). The goal of the show was to do entire episodes that dissected supporting characters from The Muppets franchise at varying points in elaborate detail. With sound clips and trivia, this is one of the best, most thought out shows that informs you about every minutiae detail. With episodes on Rizzo and Lew Zealand, this show is definitely for those wanting to learn more not only about our puppet friends, but also about the process of the show in general. Enjoy the five episodes out at the link and pray that they bring it back in 2014 full time.

2. Analyze Phish (Earwolf)

Probably the most novel of concepts in the podcast realm is comedian Harris Wittels trying to convince Scott Aukerman to like the band Phish. Don't worry, everyone who doesn't actually care for Phish, it is in the conversations where the appeal lies. With Wittels trying hard to convince people to like stuff, it becomes an analysis on what it is that makes up our personal tastes in music. While it is infrequent with releases, it is usually high caliber product that is worth the wait. Check out the recent episode with Tom Scharpling in which the Best Show on WFMU host hilariously shuts Wittels down over the course of an hour. It is a show embracing music as well as dissecting music in clever, exciting ways.

Maybe this one doesn't count, as it is a show that has only come out three times and all at price. However, when two of the greatest minds in the podcast community come together, it is bliss. Marc Maron and Tom Scharpling have a certain passion for music, culture, and life's mysteries in a way that is some of the most entertaining conversations. Yes, they can be notorious curmudgeons, but they know how to create some authentic interviews and conversations that are compelling and unique. There is only hope that with the unfortunate demise of Best Show coming this week that there will be more of them. At any costs, this show combines two juggernauts together and succeeds in unprecedented ways. 

4. The Midnight Sleuth (Ghost-Hat)

The Ghost-Hat Network has quite an impressive amount of shows that are highly entertaining and well created. Among the list is The Midnight Sleuth, which is an infrequently released show in the vein of Mike Detective in which there is a mystery that plays out in a radio serial manner. With plenty of nuanced humor and solid writing, there is plenty to indulge in each of the installments. There is satire as well as smarts in ways that make for an entertaining listen and another one that may only have a few episodes, but each one is full of life and candor that makes them worthwhile.

I am not entirely sure what happened with this show in 2013, but there was a big leap of absence between episodes. With only two episodes out this year, the usually monthly program was greatly missed and the installments bookending the year kept the spirit alive. The episodes kept the candid conversations lively and the tangents were just as funny. This is also one of the reasons that I decided to go through the with the "mini-podcasts" list, as I felt it deserved some recognition, even if it wasn't quite strong enough to compete with everything else.

Another show with a great interviewer. As host Scott Thompson began to run into luck with the launch of the TV series Hannibal, he didn't release too many episodes. What he released often featured interviews with co-stars, including a compelling chat with Lawrence Fishburne, which lead to some fascinating tangents on the subject of art, craft, and their histories in the business. Another must listen every time that it comes out, if just because the Kids in the Hall star is such an intriguing listen and his guests aren't usually those that normally do shows. There is something compelling that comes with the KITH territory and fans of the troupe will get plenty out of this.

The biggest tragedy of 2013's podcast output is that charismatic comedian Wayne Brady's podcast attempt was a one and done. It was quite a year for Whose Line Is it Anyway? fans with the show returning and the comedians hosting other successful podcasts (Greg Proops on The Smartest Man in the World and Jeff Davis on Harmontown). When Brady hit the scene with The Gentlemans, it seemed a little unstructured, but talk about pies and Spring Breakers reflected an inner desire to talk about etiquette and get a softer side of Brady's style. With plenty of humor and candid endearment, the mysterious disappearance of the show remains shocking and hopefully will return sometime in 2014 again to fill that void.

8. Midnight Marinara (Benview Network)

One of the latest shows to be added to the growing Benview Network is this show that combines storytelling with morose and dark subject matter. Evolving from Creepy Pasta, the show is another well written and produced show that is sure to gain momentum in 2014. From the few episodes already out, the show is starting out strong and with a cast of performers that keep the art of radio theater in the podcast medium alive in fresh new ways.

9. Pep Talks (All Things Comedy)

One of my favorite shows of the past few years has been The Long Shot Podcast and a big proponent of it has been Eddie Pepitone. While this show will potentially break the mini-podcast rule by the end of the year, as of this publishing, it qualifies. With the success of the Bitter Buddha, the elder statesman of comedy has had a banner year and has even decided to start up his own show, which mixes politics and comedy with sketches all presented in his somewhat cantankerous persona. The show is still a little bit rough, but the energy is strong and the output equally engaging. Even if it doesn't work nearly as well as The Long Shot Podcast, I am hoping that in time it will be just as endearing.

10. The Pod F. Tompkast 

With essentially an Extrasode and an episode of the Dead Authors Podcast being the only things on its feed, does this really count? Not really, but I needed to have a 10th selection and didn't have many other options. While you will come to see just how much I like his other show more, it is sad to see what had been the premiere podcast for the past few years skip out on 2013. There is only hope that it will make a return in 2014 with plenty insightful wit and humor that has made Paul F. Tompkins one of the finest performers currently working today.

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