Stitcher has a plethora of podcasts worth listening to. Each week, we’re giving you new episode recommendations from some of our top shows to help keep you up to speed and ease the pain of the pod discovery process.
QUEERY with Cameron Esposito — “Alicia Garza”
Host Cameron Esposito kicks off this week’s episode with guest Alicia Garza discussing the “little joys” of life right now. For her, it was getting a tiny unicorn from a coin machine. “I just needed to get a little unicorn.” Garza understood.
Garza, who co-founded the Black Lives Matter movement, recounts how this year she and her team planned for 2020 to be centered around canvassing and phone banking for the 2020 election, but it all got upended in March with the start of the pandemic. They had to pivot, which was challenging, but reminded her of the importance of leaning into uncertainty.
Garza discusses how she left Black Lives Matter in 2017 to start Black Futures Lab, an organization which aims to make Black communities stronger by engaging them in advocacy work.
What made the episode so enthralling is Garza’s explanation of how change actually happens. “We tell fairy tales about social change,” Garza says. “The notion that hashtags could start movements is one of those movements.”
Garza and Espositio’s discussion delves into the differences between organizing and activism and how protests are just the beginning of the work needed to make change. The two go on to discuss the corporatization of movements, Garza’s life before Black Lives Matter, and their feelings toward turning 40 in 2021.
Off Book: The Improvised Musical — “A Very Accurate Hanukkah: 8 Crazy Brothers with Rachel Bloom”
Off Book is a wonderful improvised podcast that gives listeners a brand new musical every week. This week is the show’s first Hanukkah episode and features Crazy Ex-Girlfriend creator and star Rachel Bloom.
Hosts Jessica McKenna and Zach Reino begin the show with a discussion of a Sesame Street knock-off show called Bubbe’s Boarding House. In the show there’s one character named Gustav, an uncle who hates traditions. Of course this leads Bloom and the hosts immediately into an idea to start the musical.
Whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah or not this year it shouldn’t stop you from listening to this episode where an uncertain pigeon narrator tells the story of Uncle Gustav, who insists on making tomato latkes instead of potato latkes, realizes he wants to connect with his niece and nephew.
In one song called “On a Mission to Destroy Tradition,” we hear a cooing pigeon giving background vocals and learn Gustav is one of eight crazy brothers, three of which are triplets with similar sounding names who are all obsessed with motorcycles.
Another song points out the benefits of being in the Second Temple (people in it have hair and it has a nook for sitting) and another number is sung by Judah Maccabee’s sister. She wants to be a comedian, but at that time “Jewish people are strong and don’t like jokes and that’s the way it’ll always be.”
So celebrate Hanukkah with Off Book, whose Hanukkah story may not be completely accurate, but they’ll give you some comedy, provide some catchy melodies, and ask the age old question: “is it safe to suck on a car part?”
Best Friends with Nicole Byer and Sasheer Zamata — “Nicole Thinks Aliens Would Keep Her For A Little Bit”
What are the benefits of having a weighted blanket? This week, host Sasheer Zamata explains to her best friend and co-host, Nicole Byer, that she loves being cocooned and covered, but warns Byer that if she feels stressed out in confined spaces not to get one. “You are a caterpillar, perpetually becoming a butterfly,” Byer tells her.
The conversation between the two hosts is both hilarious and wide-ranging as it almost immediately sinks into a discussion about mysterious beings. Byer mentions how she’s been waking up on her back with her arms spread open like “Jesus on the cross”, but never goes to sleep in that position. Zamata suggests that Byer was abducted by aliens.
“Here’s my argument for why I’m not being abducted,” Byer says. “I think they would keep me longer. Like I think I’d be missing for days. Like [the aliens would say] ‘this girl’s funny. She’s like a great time.’” Byer asserts that the aliens would be her friends and would not want her to forget about them. Though Zamata doesn’t think she’s ever been abducted by aliens, she recalls encountering angels as a child. She remembers being lifted up from sinking to the bottom of a pool and lifted up but when she looked around nobody was there.
As always, this show is the perfect escape for anyone trying to take a break from the constant stress of the news cycle. So listen this week if you want to hear about Casper the Friendly Ghost, why living forever is bad, and if funny flight attendants have been able to successfully pivot to using Covid-based jokes.
— Ian Goldstein