Well, we made it. Another trip around the sun. It was a wild ride with many of us hanging on by a thread. I wonder how many people contemplated taking up Elon Musk’s offer of a one-way trip to Mars? Really, how much more risky could it be compared to our current state of global affairs? Between the devastating natural disasters, and political meltdowns, Mars seems like an ideal getaway vacation spot.
For me, 2018 was a mixed bag. I had some remarkable journeys to places I had never been before, and met some amazing people who inspired me both personally and professionally. I flew over the Grand Canyon; it is possibly one of the greatest breath taking experiences of my life. But I also learned that the pain in my dominate hand is not from an injury; I was diagnosed with arthritis and have to contend with the reality of new limitations, including writing, and gardening. And if that news wasn’t bad enough, I am now at the point in my life in which sales clerks trip over themselves to offer me a senior discount if I leave the house without a stitch of makeup on. I have yet to accept an offer because I am not accepting of my age. Maybe this will change with the next trip around the sun.
For all of the wonderful things that happened to me in 2018, I still found it incredibly hard to laugh or fully embrace a good time. Things that once gave me joy have been stripped of their magic and wonderment. The shear weight and magnitude of the disaster we call our current American government has at times been too much to bear. It is not just that our current White House occupant is a cold hearted incompetent racists, it’s that he has so many supporters! It is crystal clear that modern America is no different from early America ; we are putting children in cages! The government is ignoring the science community as it suites their monetary needs, ignoring mass shootings as to not offend a large lobbyist group whose sole aim seem to be to sell fear and more guns, and ignoring the will of the people even as mass protests spread across the land. I don’t know which is worse, the voting suppression that is going on, or the blind eye Congress is willing to turn as the White House occupant daily diminishes the honor of the Office of President. Who would have guessed that things and people could continue to be this horrible, and this ignorant? I am not stupid, I know racism is not dead. I know politicians choose money and power over the will of the people, but I had no idea just how alive and well this ugliness is. Before 2016, I had hoped that racism and naked corruption would be on life support; now I find it thriving and spreading in pandemic proportions. I’ve written about all this before so I will not go in too deeply about all this. Believe it or not, I want to let you know how I learned to laugh again, and how I’ve been able to put much of this ugliness into some context. The raw edges of my nerves have been smoothed over, and I am convinced we will all get through this era, as we have so many times in the past.
You my lovely long time friends know that I adore podcasts. My new readers can go back and read about my love affair with this relatively new form of entertainment media. I find myself listening to podcasts much more than watching the Telly. I find them highly entertaining and informative. I’m constantly on the watch for new and usual shows; I will try anything from a good paranormal story to hardcore science news. My favorites tend to be podcasts that entertain as well as educate,so any mention of one that does both earns at least one listen from me. This is how I found The Dollop. It is not hyperbole to say this show has saved my sanity and put our current political climate in historical context. This show makes me laugh so hard that I cannot listen while putting makeup on for fear of poking an eye, nor can I listen too long while driving. Several times I’ve been forced to pull to the side of the road by uncontrollable laughter.
The premise of the show is simple. It is a bi-weekly (airing once a week) podcast with host comedian (and armchair historian) Dave Anthony reading a story from American history (they’ve covered Australia and England) to his friend and fellow comedian Gareth (not Gary) Reynolds, who has no idea what the topic is about. The hilarity occurs as Gareth reacts to Dave’s story. It is his job to recreate what he has just heard. Gareth is a master at improv and accents. He can switch from a deep southern drawl to a hard Scottish quip without missing a beat. This mix of storytelling with comedic interjections breaths life into long dead history, showing us that we are not as removed from it as we think.
The idea of peppering historical facts with comedy is not novel to this podcast, but from the reviews and awards it has received, it’s obvious that it has mastered the genre. Think Ken Burns meets Horrible History. While the show may make light of a historical figure or event it is well researched. I have now listened to almost 70 episodes and so far have not encountered any errors, except when Dave makes a mistake and reads a date wrong. Even that makes me laugh. Just yesterday, I was trying to figure out who could possibly still had a plantation in 1948 (deep, deep south?) when he interrupted himself and said, “Did I just say 1948? I meant 1848”.
There are some topics the show will not cover; they don’t do mass murders and never make light of minorities. They spotlight the privileged white male, though they have done episodes on some crazy female shenanigans.
I’d love to share a quote or two from the show, but the humor does not translate well onto paper. One has to hear the story and reaction in context to find them funny. All I can share is my personal take on the podcast; it makes me laugh like nothing has in years. On the serious side, these two comedians remind us that things can always be worse, and that in the past, things have been far, far worse. This is the beauty of the show and why I feel it has helped my capacity to cope with our current situation.
The show is not for everyone; it’s peppered with profanity and can be crude at times, but it is so well done that I highly recommend everyone give it a shot. I’d start with The Dollop #340: Floyd Collins Gets Stuck in a Cave!