Feb 11, 2014

Podcast Portal: Gelmania

Welcome to Podcast Portal: a spontaneous column that will highlight podcasts of all genres that are lesser known or new shows that are worth giving a listen. With the medium continuing to grow, it is hard to acknowledge all of them. However, I am going to try and find as many noteworthy titles as possible to share and hopefully expand your mind to the greatest growing medium out there. If you have any podcast that you feel is worth adding to the Podcast Portal, please make sure to inform me whether through the comments or through an e-mail (information in sidebar). 

SHOW: Gelmania
HOST: Brett Gelman

There is plenty to be said about the Gelmania podcast. The most notable of which is that it seemed to resurrect after almost a year and a half absence with vibrant aggression. The hiatus makes sense when considering that host Brett Gelman had a stint on the short-lived NBC series Go On as well as appearing on Adult Swim's Eagleheart. The surrealist, bleak comic has been busy and with that, his Gelmania podcast seemed to disappear off of the internet with that. I grew weary, checking sporadically throughout 2013 for new episodes only to be left disappointed. Then, it appeared in the Top 10 on iTunes sometime last week, and I was ecstatic to have it back.
True, as the title suggests, this is the 19th episode and it theoretically was on the Earwolf Network when we last saw it in 2012. However, with the banishment of the show, it also seemed to drop its affiliates, instead doing a grassroots campaign that told listeners to visit Gelmania's website "for further instruction." While technically this would disqualify it from being referenced as a "new" series, it has always felt like it was on the outer skirts, only being accepted by listeners with surreal tastes of perverse desires. That is the pleasure of the show.
For those unfamiliar with the series, it is essentially a trip through Gelman's dark, twisted thoughts. Often through audio tricks to sound demonic, insane, or minuscule, this is as much about the content as it is theatrics. It separates itself from every other show by being a catalog stream of consciousness show that mixes live segments with recorded bits and even some rap songs that detail the most disgusting things imaginable. Gelmania is an acquired taste and it isn't always pleasant. Its motto is "The revolution will not be televised. The revolution will be podcasted!" which gives it carte blanche to do whatever it wants, which it normally does.
The series has been produced in many time slots throughout the run. It was initially ran on Fridays back in 2012, but has since moved to Tuesdays. One of the growing gags of the show is that host Gelman is "quitting comedy." This isn't to say that he is stopping the show (though with inconsistent hiatuses, that's debatable), but that he is doing performance pieces. The show has always felt like that, rarely diving into anything that feels as comedic as the lighter shows that normally dominated the iTunes Top 100. 
Most of all, it plays like a cult. With blaring sirens of noise playing in the background, it sounds like a journey into the depths of hell and into the mean ego of its host. Maybe the lack of consistency even in length (episode XVIII - 57:17, episode XIX - 26:29) helps to establish how much anarchy is built into this cult. It wants you to embrace the darkness of loneliness and the selfish thoughts that come with it. It may not always make sense, but it definitely helps to distinguish itself from every other show.
This may its biggest strengths and weaknesses, but creates a sensation that each episode matters. Yes, the mishmash nature of the skits keeps some episodes from being as accessible or interesting (specifically the one in discussion), but it is a refreshing alternative that defies you to like it. With songs that make absolutely no sense and even bits that are really crass jokes, it is a performance piece of demonic proportions. You will likely be able to figure out whether this show is for you or not based on the first 10 minutes.

RATING: 3 out of 5
WORTH A SECOND GO?: With the previous episodes currently removed from accessibility, it is important to check out the show while it exists. It may be uneven and uncomfortable at points, but that is its charm essentially.

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