by Byron Graham of Westword
5. Whiskey & Cigarettes
Whiskey & Cigarettes is a podcast about podcasts, and much funnier than that glib description would suggest. Hosted by the local brain trust behind the Uncalled Four comedy-game show — Jake Browne, Zac Maas and budtender Jake Becker — the podcast has evolved over the years. What began as an unfocused, booze-soaked and dab-fueled marathon of podcast clips and giggly quips has sharpened into a more purposeful format, boasting funnier episodes and attracting high-profile guests like Robert Kelly, Paul Mercurio and Nate Bargatze. While the show still functions as a fine introduction to the ever-widening swaths of podcasts out there, the real treat is the interplay between hosts and guests.
4. Welcome to Denver
Cory Helie is a model Denver transplant. The Nebraska native, who’d already befriended a number of Denver’s traveling comedians, moved to our city with a wide-eyed appreciation of its charms and an eagerness to explore its hidden corners. Helie’s Westword-lauded podcast Welcome to Denver is easy listening yet essential for its kindly insight into the pet obsessions of new arrivals and natives alike. After a disconcerting months-long hiatus during Helie’s nuptials and crosstown move, the podcast came roaring back last month and shows no signs of diminishing. Helie, who also presides over the open mic at Mutiny Information Cafe and the ego-drubbing Midnights showcase at Three Kings Tavern, continues to prove how welcoming Denver can be.
3. The Narrators
Westword MasterMind Andrew Orvedahl first conceived of The Narrators as a live show at the dearly departed Paris on the Platte back in 2010. Since its debut, the show has expanded to include an audio podcast and a sister show in San Diego hosted by Mary Robertson and Robert Rutherford. In Denver, the enduringly popular show carries on in its newish home at the Buntport Theater with Ron S. Doyle and Erin Rollman hosting, but the format has remained roughly the same since the outset. A well-curated roster of Denver creatives take to the stage to relate tales from the deepest recesses of their personal histories, loosely based around a theme. The next live recording is set for 8 p.m. February 17; the theme is “DIY or Die.” Experience stories that range from hilarious to heartbreaking at Buntport Theater; admission is free.
2. These Things Matter
Taylor Gonda and Kevin O’Brien are the Denver gadabouts and culture vultures behind These Things Matter, a wide-ranging and inviting podcast that chronicles its guest relationships with the art they love. While anyone can delve into the minutiae of music, literature and cinema, it takes rare insight to draw out a rough autobiography from a guest’s formative pop-cultural obsessions. With a comparatively rigorous recording schedule, it’s something of a marvel that O’Brien and Gonda commit to researching unfamiliar subjects proposed by their guests, both expanding their own horizons and finding new things to rant about. Their live podcast recordings have become a staple of the High Plains Comedy Festival, where they’ve shared a dais with some of their most high-profile guests to date, including Ron Funches and Jonah Ray.
1. Empty Girlfriend
The brainchild of Denver-hewn comics Christie Buchele and Haley Driscoll, Empty Girlfriend features tell-all interviews with local comedians, musicians and veterinarians about their relationship histories, offering “love tips and love quips from unqualified professionals.” Buchele and Driscoll are charming and disarming co-hosts who put their guests at ease for surprisingly revealing interviews. Though unafraid to delve into more somber topics like heartbreak, disease and personal struggle, the podcast is always leavened by their quick wit and sentence-finishing chemistry. Despite a brief hiatus after Driscoll’s relocation to Los Angeles, the show continues with the assistance of Skype, opening up an entire new community of interview subjects without losing any of the classic podcastuary intimacy from Empty Girlfriend‘s early days.
Check out the full list at Westword