In the highly competitive field of barroom lecture podcasts, one show stands above the rest: Trampoline Hall. The Toronto-based show, created in 2001 by author Sheila Heti and distributed in podcast form since late 2016, follows the familiar lecture format—a lone speaker preforming on stage for 10-15 minutes. However, there is one notable exception: lecturers may not speak on topics in which they are professionally an expert.
As a result, the topics featured in every episode of the podcast, each of which contain one recorded lecture and Q&A period selected from the Trampoline Hall archives, range from the mundane to the personal to the surreal. Likewise, the amateur lecturers, most of whom have little or no stage experience, often come off as awkward, afraid, or confused; all of which, says host Misha Glouberman, is part of the Trampoline Hall appeal.
While the show is definitely worth listening to in its entirety, if only to hear Glouberman learn how to host a podcast on the spot, some amateur lecturers stand out from the crowd.
There is Emily Keeler, a self-proclaimed non-expert in dads given that she “neither [is] one, or has one,” who talks about her experience growing up watching her imagined surrogate father, comedian Bob Saget, on television. Keeler explains the lessons she learned as a young girl pretending to be the fourth Tanner daughter on the sitcom Full House, hanging out with her uncles John Stamos and Dave Coulier, as well as the day she heard her first dad joke, watching Saget host America’s Funniest Home Videos.
Author of Psychosis & Reality, Andrew Mbaruk, sets aside his considerable academic knowledge in his lecture “Quails” to speak about the various ways we have consumed the quail throughout history. Beginning with the biblical tale of the quail plague inflicted on the Israelites and ending with the proposal that, thanks to modern science, we will soon be able to create our own quails from the cells of rats, Mbaruk’s lecture spans the greater portion of humans’ history with the bird.
Michael Higginson, a tall and often clumsy man, in a lecture entitled “Being in the Way,” asks and attempts to answer the questions “am I in the way?” “should I get out of the way?” and “why do I feel in the way?” Citing anecdotal evidence from concerts, public performances, and his day-to-day routine, as well as guidance from Reverend Moore at beingintheway.org, Higginson concludes that everyone, one way or another, is in the way of something.
If one, or any of these ideas sounds interesting, listen to Trampoline Hall on iTunes or anywhere podcasts are hosted. Trampoline Hall’s next live show is on November 5, in Toronto at The Garrison.