Podcasts have changed the way we consume audio. What once started as a very niche medium that could only be accessed through syncing your iPod up to your computer can now be instantly downloaded onto your mobile communication device. The medium really has grown leaps and bounds in the last decade with up to 6 million weekly listeners in the United Kingdom alone. It definitely is my preferred entertainment form, according to the Pocket Casts app I’ve listened to podcasts for a total of 103 days which I believe is mostly Hello From The Magic Tavern and the three times I have listened through all the episodes. Season 3 has just started and I am here to tell you that should definitely dive in. Get ready because things are about to get wild!
Hello From The Magic Tavern follows Arnie Niekamp (a fictional version of the very real & very tall fellow) falling through a portal behind the back of a Burger King and ending up in a magical world called Foon similar to that of Narnia or Middle-Earth. There are two co-hosts in the form of Chunt a shapeshifter (who primarily takes the form of a badger) and a blue wizard called Usidore, Wizard of the 12th Realm of Ephysiyies, Master of Light and Shadow, Manipulator of Magical Delights, Devourer of Chaos, Champion of the Great Halls of Terr'akkas. The elves know him as Fi’ang Yalok. The dwarfs know him as Zoenen Hoogstandjes. And he is also known in the Northeast as Gaismunēnas Meistar. You may not believe it but he does actually have some other names in there too.
The primary focus of the show sees Niekamp trying to learn more about the magical world he has stumbled into and he does this by interviewing different creatures every week.
What makes it worth your time is that all of the encounters are completely improvised. Every week guests join Niekamp, Chunt and Usidore in completely made up interactions which can go in some bizarre directions. In episode 17 the gang meet an archer who happens to be an Elf, it is discovered that his father had been taken by a tree. Even for Foon that is something completely insane. Arnie, Chunt & Usidore react appropriately to this. Almost a year later they have a guest on to play the part of a talking tree, for the people who are paying close attention jokes like this pay off hilariously.
What makes this podcast special is that everything that is uttered on the show becomes canon. “Open Mic Night” is a night about a person named Mike that open his stomach as his party trick. As far as podcasts go, it’s pretty unique and different guests bring on different styles of comedy; one week can be slapstick employing the finest of sound effects and next week is dark humour where the guest is a literal pile of rubbish talking about his miserable time on earth.
If you are unsure about diving in then might I suggest my personal favourite episode 69 (not for that reason) which features two halfling bards. Here they are introduced as Foon’s biggest band (who have broken up 18 times, but one of the times didn’t count because one of them was asleep) hilariously improvising songs on the fly. This episode has a real arc for all characters that are involved and plays to all of the improvers strengths leaving the listener grinning from ear to ear.
Hello From The Magic Tavern has just started its third season and is an excellent jumping on point. Find it at podcast services across the land and the Hello From The Magic Tavern Website.