RE­ALLY GOOD COM­PANY

Adam Buxton’s in­ter­views are gen­tle, funny and com­pas­sion­ate

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - AUDIO REVIEWS - SARAHMARIAGRIFFIN

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

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