There’s a troubling moment happening in podcasting. It’s a format that’s been built in the trenches by a ragtag group of misfits, experimenting and developing original ideas. And now that it has become something, it seems here comes every celebrity and influencer, each with their own podcast. It’s not that some of the new voices don’t contribute, but it feels a bit like gentrification to see the haves swoop in on something that was built from the ground up by the make dos.
It was with a little skepticism that I approached Seth Rogen’s new podcast: Storytime. Seth Rogen is charming, open-hearted actor and human, but I wondered if this could be more hogging of the bandwidth. My sincere hope for the show was that, given the resource he has available, he would do more.
Each episode of Storytime is a multi-layered audio journey. It’s genuinely beautiful to listen to. It feels like the old-timey radio shows my dad would play me from his youth where the live sound of things happening seems like it’s really somewhere out in the world. There’s an immediacy in this that makes you lean in like putting your ear to someone’s chest to hear their heartbeat.
The first episode, Glorious Basterds, follows comedian Quinta Brunson on a tale of her chance encounter with Paul Rudd while on a date while she was an aspiring comic. Not only do we get to enjoy her story in richly-produced detail and how it changed the course of her life, but Rogen continues the chain of influence by interviewing Paul Rudd, both to see if he remembered the encounter and to find out about what people had an influence on his career. They even make the attempt to interview THAT person.
Producer and editor Richard Parks is indeed one of the authentic stars of the show. The edit is so rich and creative…full of love and strangeness. We are invited into remarkable and complete universes and I come away feeling like I’m in on a secret.
“The first episode, the Quinta Brunson episode. It has this structure that’s almost like a triangle where the concept spreads out as it goes. Very early on we had a completely usable, cohesive story from Quinta, but then it went into a totally different direction for twice the amount of time. I think the thing that’s most interesting to me about this whole podcast series is Seth deciding early on that it was going to be edited, when he didn’t have to do that and I don’t think anyone expected him to. It’s like the Mark Twain quote: I could’ve written a shorter letter but I didn’t have the time.”