One of my favorite history courses back in school was a world history advanced course taught by a man with a darkish sense of humor and more than a little appreciation for absurdity. I remember particularly the day when, discussing the Roman empire, we covered Caligula and his relationship with his favorite horse. It was a funny day one of many I recall in that class.
I find a lot of that same spirit listening to The Dollop Podcast. Each episode covers a single topic–mainly historical as of late although that was more flexible in the beginning. What qualifies as ‘historical’ in this context could vary a little as well. For instance all four of the main episodes (As opposed to the fifteen to twenty minute “smallop” episodes that tell stories not long enough for a full episode.) in December covered a facet of the history of the Los Angeles Police Department.
The format of the show is very loose and conversational. Dave Anthony tells his friend, and fellow stand up comic, Gareth (Gary?) Reynolds a story from the weird annals of American history. The joy in the exchanges comes from Mr. Anthony’s knowledge of storytelling and his sense of how to build Mr. Reynold’s unbelieving “You can’t make this shit up!” reactions to a pitch over the course of an hour.
The episode that exemplifies this to me is the one that covers the life of Jack Parsons. Mr. Parsons was central to the formation of the JPL and thereby to the space program and modern rocketry. He was also an Occultist, an early follower of L. Ron Hubbard, and he was truly and wonderfully strange.
Over the course of the episode Anthony keeps upping the ante on the weird and Reynolds reacts with both clever remarks (he is a very fast comedian) and by being almost wordlessly overwhelmed by the sheer oddity on display. Regular listeners have leaned to enjoy the moment in each episode where Gareth’s mind gives up and he loudly and profanely demands to know what is going on.
The profanity might be too much for some–as I’ve said before I myself enjoy a well used swear. These men are both working stand-up comics, be assured they earn their explicit label. If you enjoy the historical stories that tend to the more odd and under reported check them out.