If you’re anything like my dad —you probably have no earthly idea what a podcast is let alone how to download one. As a tech novice I can promise you that once you figure it out it is addicting! There is a wealth of knowledge on everything from true crime, to politics, and my personal favorite- comedy. Specifically, Jewish comedy! There is something about our humor that takes one to know one, and I never laugh harder than when I am in my car listening to “Kill Me Now,” a weekly podcast hosted by award winning comedian and writer, Judy Gold. One of the many staples to each episode is a bell that she rings whenever she mentions anything Jewish (from a name, to a place or even a celebrity). It sounds like it would be annoying but I can assure you there is something so hilarious about a guest regaling a story and when they mention Ben Schwartz (*ding) or living in Brooklyn (*ding) and that they would watch Jerry Seinfeld (**ding, ding)—it gets me every time. Joy Behar said she was amazed and had no idea how many people were Jewish during one of her stories on the podcast. Since Judy always seems to be pissed-off about something, she thought why not interview celebrities about what makes them angry—from the extraordinary to the mundane. Whether it’s your cheap friend who always gets up from the table when the check comes, to injustices such as inequality & equal pay, Judy and her guests vent with wit, humor and passion.
Next on my list is “Ronna & Beverly,” America’s favorite 50-something Jewish mothers from Boston. Every episode, comedians Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo embrace their alter egos, best friends Ronna Marlene Glickman and Beverly Ginsberg (née Kahn), for an hour or so of kvetching, kvelling and unsolicited advice. The best-selling coauthors of “You’ll Do a Little Better Next Time: A Guide to Marriage and Re-marriage for Jewish Singles” (“But it doesn’t matter, it’s for everybody,” they assure their listeners on the pilot episode) debate whether it was Shoah or Schindler’s List that was filmed in black and white, discuss what they purchased from the sales bin at Marshall’s and interview (actually: harass) a parade of celebrity guests. As for special deals from their advertisers, the offer code is always, of course, “Shalom.” These women remind me of every Jewish mother whether Ronna is bragging about her son Jordan at NYU or Beverly discusses her love of baby animal videos first thing in the morning on the Yahoo News.
“WTF” with Marc Maron changed the podcast landscape when comedian Marc Maron decided to start having conversations in his garage. He welcomes comedians, actors, directors, writers, authors, musicians and folks from all walks of life to his home for amazingly revealing conversations. Marc’s probing, comprehensive interview style allows guests to express themselves in ways listeners have never heard. Iconic personalities such as Robin Williams, Keith Richards, Ben Stiller, Lorne Michaels and even President Barack Obama are just some of the notable guests. One of the most prominent themes of the show is Marc’s exploration of both his relationship and the relationship of comedians in general with Judaism. This has always been a part of Maron’s work culminating in his one-man show “The Jerusalem Syndrome.” What has manifested itself over the course of the podcast’s run is an exploration of the evolution of the Jewish comedian archetype. Whether he is speaking to Ira Glass in an episode of dueling insecurity or bonding over “defensive pessimism” with Judd Apatow—you can relate in a very meaningful way.
Take it from a working mom who needs to multi-task—my car is a place of respite and serenity. A place where I can laugh and cry and breathe. Trust me if you take a little time to explore the world of podcasts, specifically the three I mentioned, you won’t regret it.
TANYA FEIN IS A CONTRIBUTING WRITER TO JLIFE MAGAZINE.