Podcasting with Vulnerability

podcastcry I was listening to podcasts at work, as I am wont to do. One of them was a Carrie Fisher tribute from the Anomaly Podcast, hosted by my friends and the former home of my dearly departed podcast, Anomaly Supplemental. They established at the very beginning that they had to take the time to process the passing of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds as they both grew up with them, and they didn't want to cry on the podcast. And while I respect the need to be articulate and stoic, or at least not on the verge of crying, I have to admit that I felt most connected to the episode when they were on the verge of tears.

Many people underestimate the power of being vulnerable on a public platform. It feels more comfortable to have the shield of entertainment and fluff because it protects our gooey centers. I should know. I'm not only an artist, I'm a comedian. But the best performers, visual artists, writers, musicians, and so on have to access their emotions and personal views. Of course, these things are extremely precious to us. So when we share them, we are either going to inspire or invite criticism.

One of my favorite podcasts right now is Matt and Doree's Eggcellent Adventure. The premise of this show is that spouses Matt Mira (The Nerdist, co-host) and Doree Shafrir (BuzzFeed, executive editor) share their experiences of trying to have a child via IVF. It's a personal and funny account inside the process of getting pregnant with the assistance of medical science. What I love about them is that they are honest about how rigorous IVF treatments are and the planning that is involved, as well as the interpersonal relationships with doctors and nurses and anyone else poking around poor Doree's uterus.

I love that Matt and Doree are both willing to be so open about it. Not everyone is willing to do that. I'm not even sure some people are capable of that. I think it's primarily because of fear of negative feedback and trolling. Now, Matt and Doree get nice feedback in their mailbox about how their listeners share similar experiences, curiously ask them why IVF instead of adoption, etc. It's a wonderful, interactive community they are building. And then Matt gets Twitter comments that straight up say, "You know there's this thing called adoption." Luckily Matt is a comedian and is used to this kind of thing happening. But that's kind of snarky, right? I cringe when I read things like that because people are being willfully ignorant. (Because everyone thinks they're a comedian. I'll be writing another blog on this next week. Stay tuned.)

Having a podcast that chronicles a personal journey or has at least one episode where the host or hosts are honest does not come without risk of snark, but it also has the beautiful advantage of allowing listeners to connect with them. I may not be anywhere near having a child right now, but I relate to Matt and Doree's infertility issues. I relate to that loss felt by my friends for Carrie Fisher. I want to relate. I wish podcasters were more willing to do that as their other entertainment and artistic counterparts do. Look, I’m not Brene Brown, but I do think that vulnerability has a place not only in our paintings and movies but also in our podcast feeds.

KC Ryan is an improv graduate turned Sketch Writing Level 2 student. When she’s not working at the day job, she is a writer and podcaster for everything that combines feminism, comedy, theatre, and nerdery. She also performs in the puppet improv troupe Empty Inside.