“Uncategorizable” Podcast has Something for Everyone
For those of us who have developed an ultra-busy lifestyle to accommodate the many demands of our lives, podcasts have become a savior. Podcasts are essential for multi-taskers and daydreamers alike; they are great to play in the background while driving or doing homework and can provide great company and escape if you find yourself stuck inside your own head. There’s a type of podcast for everyone, whether you like comedy, history, sports or even spooky stories.
One podcast that defies all categories is “Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People,” otherwise known as “Beautiful/Anonymous.” Hosted by New York-based comedian Chris Gethard, best known for his role as Todd on Comedy Central’s “Broad City,” this podcast became an immediate hit due to its unique format. Gethard will post a phone number through his Twitter and Instagram accounts when he is accepting calls and anyone has the chance to call and speak to him. The rules of the phone call are straightforward: the caller must stay anonymous and has exactly one hour with Gethard on the phone. Additionally, the caller may hang up at any point before the hour ends, but Gethard cannot hang up and must stay on the call for the whole hour, no matter how awkward or uncomfortable he may be. Although this format seems trivial, Gethard’s comedic style and notoriously empathetic disposition have made this podcast an instant sensation and deservingly so.
What makes “Beautiful/Anonymous” true to its name is the amazing evolution of the conversation between Gethard and the unknown caller. Where the caller may have intended to talk about one specific anecdote or story, the topics of discussion develop into much more complicated subjects. Not only is the natural progression of the conversation interesting, but the way in which Gethard guides the phone call and encourages the caller to delve deeper into themselves is impressive. His instant connection to callers doesn’t feel feigned or forced, but rather legitimate and admirable. That isn’t to say that Gethard lacks honesty; he voices his opinion and true feelings in a way that is empowering to the caller, by giving them an unbiased perspective while respecting their position.
The range of topics in “Beautiful/Anonymous” is striking, considering there are only 45 episodes to date. Some episodes are more on the comedic side, such as “Strangers on a Train” and “5% Romantic Interest,” with the latter featuring popular comedian Hannibal Buress as a co-host. Other episodes are more serious, such as “Married to a Monster” and “The Hardest Part is That You Love Me.” Some callers have even discussed their religious lives, ranging from Mormon to Orthodox Judaism, and gives a fascinating look into the worlds and cultures of those around us. In all of these stories, Gethard is able to find beauty and humor in each person’s life while shedding some insight into the situation. Some episodes will stick with you for days, and a fascinating feeling of caring for an anonymous person washes over you.
Perhaps in spite of the anonymous nature of his podcast, Gethard incubates a sense of intimacy between himself, the caller and listeners alike–something previously unachieved in the podcast realm. Gethard is able to bring his own voice to the show without eliminating the diversity brought in with each new caller. Deemed “uncategorizable” by their producers, “Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People” is a comforting, hilarious and honest way to spend an hour.
“Beautiful/Anonymous” can be found online through their production network, Earwolf.com, or through your preferred podcast streaming app.