A show about escalators, a show about cows: what's your favourite extremely niche podcast?

The thing about podcasting is anyone can do it. That makes many of them delightfully specific – or very, very strange

• Join us in the comments with your own recommendations

As we struggle through various stages of lockdown, most conversations seem to revolve around entertainment. What shows are you watching? What books are you reading? What hyper-specific podcasts that cater to deeply niche interests are you listening to?

Ask Twitter, and you’ll find out about a podcast in which the hosts recap fake episodes of Friends; one devoted to seminal moments in Drake’s career; and an investigative series – up to its 200th episode – asking Whatever Happened to the Pizza at McDonalds.

Ask the staff at Guardian Australia, and you’ll find out about even more. Please join us in the comments with your own favourites.

A show exclusively about escalators: People Movers

Lindsey Green’s People Movers podcast is an absolute joy. This independent Australian podcast describes itself as “a podcast highlighting the impact of escalators on every day life” and it really is just that – it’s a podcast about ESCALATORS.

For a long time I couldn’t tell if this series was a joke or serious, but Lindsey won me over with her earnest fascination of all things escalator-related. Her personality really shines, and the podcast has such a well-defined sense of sound design and humour throughout – it makes her journey to greater escalator knowledge a pleasure to follow.

– Miles Martignoni

A show for all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles content that wouldn’t fit on ANOTHER show: We’ve got to stop talking TMNT on CBB

A few months ago on Comedy Bang! Bang! host Scott Aukerman let it slip to recurring guest Sprague the Whisperer (played by comedian Shaun Diston) that he knew very little about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As time went on, the show quickly found itself becoming the world’s most preeminent place for Turtle content, as the two kept coming back time and again to the reptilian martial artists. And so We Have To Stop Talking TMNT on CBB was born.

TURTLE POWER!

On this week’s NEW episode of WE HAVE TO STOP TALKIN’ TMNT ON CBB, the Heynongman himself, JASON MANTZOUKAS joins us!

Sprague the Whisperer (@shaundiston) & I watch TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES III

Get this episode and MORE at...https://t.co/1rOxUsxovJ pic.twitter.com/qSRgFuBglX

— Scott Aukerman (@ScottAukerman) August 20, 2020

Each episode has Scott and Sprague recap one of the live-action Turtles movies, beginning with the original early 90s trilogy, through to the Michael Bay reboots of the 2010s. Also covered is the 1993 film Surf Ninjas, which has no turtles, but several ninjas (and some surfing). It’s a delight to hear Sprague break each film down with warmth and enthusiasm. Meanwhile, Scott struggles to remember even the most basic of details about the Turtles, even with the help of the catchy and descriptive ear worm that is the TMNT theme song (“Splinter taught them to be ninja teens/Leonardo leads/Donatello does machines…”).

– Joe Koning

A show devoted to reading – and hating – Sweet Valley High: Double Love

I’ve never read a Sweet Valley High book. My ghostwritten series of choice was The Saddle Club because I was (still am) an insufferable horse girl. But that did not stop me from immediately downloading Double Love on the back of the one line-description of arts writer and editor Jane Howard: “Two Irish women rereading Sweet Valley High and realising how awful it is.”

Reader, that is exactly my jam. I know that, as a journalist, I should pretend to enjoy listening to investigative podcasts but what I really want is two people with good chemistry, preferably women, recapping a thing. That’s it, that’s the formula. Does it matter that I have never had direct experience of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s blue-green eyes, blonde hair and perfect size six figures? Not in the slightest. I have listened to 15 episodes in a week and laughed so hard on my daily walk that I startled a cavoodle. Besides, I’ve seen the covers. It is exactly what I want to listen to while the world falls apart.

– Calla Wahlquist

A show devoted to cows: The Beef and Dairy Network

The Beef and Dairy Network Podcast is a bit like what everyone says about Schitt’s Creek: it starts out unspectacularly, but those who persevere will be rewarded thereafter.

In this case, listeners need to give it about one minute and 50 seconds into the first episode, which begins like a version of the ABC’s Country Hour, and launches into the beef forecast (“coastal beef stationary and fine”) and milk prices (“the Creme Fraiche is freeeesh”). By episode six, a recap of the infamous Cumberfeld Cow Disaster, there’s no way of switching off.

The entire thing is, of course, beautifully deadpan satire. The highlight of each episode is the alleged correspondence from farmers.

– Ben Smee

A show that dissects petty domestic disputes: Judge John Hodgman

Imagine Judge Judy, then lower the stakes. Lower. Lower. Make it about how someone’s wife won’t share her earnings in Animal Crossing (not guilty), or how someone’s husband cooks too many briskets (definitely guilty). These are the cases adjudicated by writer, comedian and human-PC John Hodgman, alongside his bailiff Jesse Thorn and the occasional guest judge.

If you think listening to people hash out their pettiest domestic disputes for upwards of an hour doesn’t sound soothing, you’re dead wrong. The results are funny, strange and often quite tender. It’s not about the verdict, but the insight into plaintiffs’ lives – which is fortunate because I listen to this to go to sleep, and am almost always unconscious before the case is concluded.

– Alyx Gorman

A show that dissects bad US supreme court rulings: 5-4 Podcast

5-4 describes itself as a progressive take on how much the supreme court sucks. Each episode focuses on a particular decision of the US supreme court and the ideological and political forces at play in each. It starts with the Bush v Gore ruling on the Florida recount after the 2000 election – which, it turns out, was even more outrageous than I remembered. It’s entertaining despite being about the legal system and has new relevance following the death of RBG.

– Shelley Hepworth

A show that looks at Australia through the lens of a long-running soap opera: A Country Podcast

I’ve just started listening to A Country Podcast, which looks back at Australia’s longest-running TV soapie (1981-1993), and included one of the saddest moments in television history. But the podcast isn’t sad, don’t worry! The hosts – Melanie Tait and Kim Lester – won’t be rewatching all 1,000 episodes; rather they’re choosing those that tell us something about what was happening in Australian society at the time.

They’ve bagged interviews with some of the show’s most recognisable actors, including Matt Day and Shane Porteous, and the opening episode stars Nicole Kidman’s hair. Tait and Lester are giddily enthusiastic about A Country Practice, and even when issues veer into deep moral panic mode, they manage to steer the conversation back to a lighter note. So far, it’s all feel good fun for me, and gosh don’t we need that right now?

– Gabrielle Jackson

A show about a nonexistent Sex and the City film: Saving Sex and the City Three

Look, the Sex and the City movies were undeniably awful, but despite this, nobody is willing to let the idea of a third movie go yet. The public and the tabloids are constantly asking when the third movie is coming out, and former cast members (sans Kim Cattrall, of course) keep dangling the carrot.

LA-based writer and performer Lara Marie Schoenhals is sick of waiting, so has created a podcast to reimagine what SATC3 could be. Lara is joined each episode by an actor/writer/director who bring their own vision for the movie – everything from a Christmas special to Carrie facing the debt crisis we knew she was headed for but somehow always avoided. Scene by scene they describe the movie, carving out plot points, tension and dialogue. It’s so realistic you hope some episodes are picked up by a streaming service and rebooted – Kim Cattrall might even be persuaded to join.

– Ellen Leabeater

What’s your favourite oddball podcast? Share it in the comments below.

Contributors

Steph Harmon, Miles Martignoni, Joe Koning, Calla Wahlquist, Ben Smee, Alyx Gorman, Shelley Hepworth, Gabrielle Jackson, and Ellen Leabeater

The GuardianTramp

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