Conor Be­han and Holly Shor­tall’s pop-cul­ture chat show is a pure de­light

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

I am largely ter­ri­fied of chat-show style pod­casts un­less the sub­ject mat­ter is in­cred­i­bly spe­cific. Host-to-host dy­nam­ics and chem­istry, un­less you’re a de­vout fan of what they’re dis­cussing or the host them­selves, can of­ten feel alien­at­ing. There’s noth­ing I dread more than tun­ing in to a pod­cast and feel­ing pushed out by chat, rather than pulled in. How­ever, hosts Conor Be­han and Holly Shor­tall are de­light­ful to lis­ten to in their weekly pop-cul­ture com­men­tary, Popsessed. They’re warm and earnest: the con­ver­sa­tion is fo­cused and fast-paced.

The episode I rec­om­mend start­ing on is the sev­enth of their run, New Year, New

Neck. The con­ver­sa­tion is top­i­cal, look­ing at the re­turn of Danc­ing on Ice and the Golden Globes – as well as celebrity news sto­ries, such as Brit­ney Spears’ can­cel­la­tion of 30 up­com­ing shows. Be­han and Shor­tall dis­cuss pre­cisely what is hap­pen­ing in the pop-cul­ture land­scape right now, but with a healthy bal­ance of cri­tique and hu­mour.

For ex­am­ple, when they’re chat­ting about the Golden Globes, there’s as much at­ten­tion given to the al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual abuse around di­rec­tor of Bo­hemian Rhap­sody, Bryan Singer, as there is to the vi­ral red­car­pet su­per­star Fiji Wa­ter Girl. Each news item gets breath­ing room.

The hour moves quickly. By the time we get to the story of an In­sta­gram su­per­star’s plas­tic-surgery plot twist, I couldn’t be­lieve there was half an hour gone. I nor­mally get dis­tracted after about 20 min­utes.

There is some­thing in the tone that feels as though it could have been broad­cast live from a sound­stage on Chan­nel 4 in the mid-2000s – Be­han and Shor­tall are sharp, funny, en­gaged com­men­ta­tors. Seg­ments such as “De­served/Not De­served” and the “Neck of the Week” are hi­lar­i­ous.

It is also re­fresh­ing to have two Ir­ish voices with in­sight­ful and in­tel­li­gent opin­ions to lis­ten to. This is the Ir­ish mag­a­zine show we truly de­serve in 2019 – I’ll be hap­pily lis­ten­ing ev­ery week.

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