REALLY GOOD COMPANY
Adam Buxton’s interviews are gentle, funny and compassionate
Normally, what attracts me to podcasts is the content first, and the likability of the hosts second: in fact, the hosting will keep me there long after my initial curiosity about the subject matter has waned. Good podcast hosting often requires a weird one-way alchemy between the listener and whoever it is they’re listening to. Last week, while abroad, I started listening to Adam Buxton’s podcast – and I’d love him. As an interviewer and a host he has an undeniable gift: he’s incredibly pleasant to listen to.
Buxton’s interviews are gentle, funny, compassionate, interested – it’s almost as if you could learn how to be a better conversationalist just from listening to him. Because the podcast has been airing since 2015, there’s an immense back catalogue to go through – I suggest scrolling through and listening to him chat to any name you recognise – writer Zadie Smith or documentarian Louis Theroux (who he has known all of his life). John Ronson’s episodes are particularly insightful.
The conversations move from the personal to the cultural, and lack any stiltedness or worse, in-jokey comedian culture jags. Buxton introduces each show with a little monologue, often as he is walking, which places the listener very firmly with him. The shows are broken up by little musical interludes which are surprising and weird and give every episode a feel of being something quite whole, with a deliberate aesthetic beyond just “interviews with interesting people”.
When talking to people about why they listen to podcasts, over and over again I am told that people listen to voices on the other end of headphones for company. This explains that strange parasocial click we sometimes get when we love a podcast for no reason other than we enjoy the host’s company. Listening to podcasts is an intimate thing. I’ve had Adam Buxton on my headphones every day for over a week now, at times when I’ve needed a bit of company. I may have come late to the show, but I’m really glad I got here.
An undeniable gift: Adam Buxton