Podcast of the Week: Last Podcast on the Left

Podcast of the Week continues its Halloween celebrations with some listener stories from the Last Podcast on the Left.

Welcome to “Podcast of the Week!” Every week here at Den of Geek, we will be highlighting a podcast that we believe turned in the best episode or episodes that week. It will be a tall task as somehow there appear to be more podcasts than actual people on Earth, but we’re going to scour a diverse set of as many shows as we can every week to find the best example of podcasting excellent and bestow one with the immortal title: “Podcast of the Week.”

Like any legitimate award there will be snubs and there will be flubs. But that’s just part of the process. If you have any podcast episodes that you feel deserve recognition or just want to scream incoherently in rage at a snub, direct all inquiries to @alecbojalad.

Podcast of the Week: 10/14/16 – 10/20/16

Last Podcast on the Left: Listener Stories III – War Edition

Podcast of the Week doesn’t have many hard and fast rules. To be awarded Podcast of the Week, an entrant has to be A. A podcast. B. That delivered an episode the previous week that was C. Good.

Subconsciously, however, we’ve tended to avoid the “very special” episodes of each show – the podcast episodes that deviate wildly from the original podcast’s regularly scheduled broadcasting. But this is Halloween, damn it. And Halloween has its own rules. Last Podcast on the Left is this week’s Podcast of the Week with an atypical, yet wonderfully spooky episode.

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A “usual” episode of Last Podcast on the Left features hosts Henry Zebrowski, Ben Kissel and Marcus Parks discussing all things horror – both real and imagined. Earlier this year, a helpful Redditor categorized each popular Last Podcast on the Left topic by number of episodes with “Serial Killers”, “Satanism and the Occult” and “The Horrors of Reality” in the lead. Last week was the somewhat uncategorizable but undeniably fascinating topic of time travelers.

This week’s episode, however, is one of those Podcast of the Week “very special episodes”… and it’s very special indeed.

“Listener Stories III” is exactly what it sounds like – Zebrowski, Kissel and Parks receiving spooky real-life stories from their listeners on-air. A collection of scary stories alone is nearly enough to crack Podcast of the Week territory, especially around Halloween – but what really sets “Listener Stories III” is the quality of the aforementioned listeners.

Last Podcast on the Left has had a rather dedicated fanbase since a podcast having a “fanbase” was a novelty. The men and woman* who share their stories on “Listener Stories III” are uniformly fantastic. Each story is clearly the story from that listener’s life that they are both happy and maybe a little uneasy to share.

*Last Podcast on the Left can be a bit of a sausage fest. Just the one woman storyteller on this one – Olivia. She comes correct with a serial killer close encounter story – and it’s not what you think.

For what it’s worth the Last Podcast bros of Zebrowski, Kissel and Parks are receptive listeners as well. The trademark escalating absurdist humor of Last Podcast on the Left is only ever used as punctuation and never gets in the way of a story.

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There are seven stories in “Listener Stories III – War Edition” and as the “War Edition” subtitle suggest, many are war, military or government related – inadvertently so as the episode description notes. Amateur historian Sergeant Goldenthroat (that might not be his real name, guys) opens up the proceedings with a reading of a British soldier’s letter detailing a monster in Somme. Later on, the guys welcome on a former Area 51 worker to dish about what the government is working on (baller-ass combat exo-skeletons) and an Iraq war vet with truly disturbing stories…only one of which is potentially paranormal.

The inadvertent focus on war stories works well as they range from outright terrifying to uncomfortably poignant. It also helps Last Podcast on the Left stand apart from its peers in this crowded scary-story-telling season.  Of the non-war stories, two are excellent and almost completely unique and two are fairly benign. Still, a 71% success rate is a high as you’re going get this time of year.

Last Podcast on the Left normally relies on the humor and chemistry of its hosts. Opening up its forum to listener stories is a risky proposition but it pays off perfectly in “Listener Stories III – War Edition.” And that’s why Podcast on the Left is this week’s Podcast of the Week.