I’ve recently taken a big step (and arguably one that’s long overdue for the editor of a podcast industry publication) and subscribed to my first ever podcast Patreon. Die-hard skinflint that I am, I’ve not been able to justify subscribing to any up until now, but I’ve finally bitten the bullet and signed over my credit card details to a pair of lucky podcasters.
The podcasters in question are Daniel Sloss and Kai Humphreys, a pair of comedians and long-time friends whose podcast - Sloss and Humphreys On The Road - has become one of my ‘comfort listens’, when I just want some entertaining nonsense to listen to while I’m doing something else.
As podcasts go, ‘two comedian mates chatting to each other for an hour’ is hardly breaking bold new ground, and they’d be the first to admit that the show isn’t exactly lighting any fires as an artistic work - so why is this the one that finally broke my resolve?
Well, aside from needing something to write a column about this week, the main reason I decided to pony up the cash for their Patreon is a unique piece of subscriber content that they put out about a week or so ago. Sloss recently got married - and if you’re reading this after vanity-searching your own name, congratulations - with Humphries acting as best man, and his speech at the wedding was released as bonus content for Patreon subscribers.
As you’d expect from a professional comedian, Huphries’ speech was both funny and polished, but an extra ten minutes of laughs wasn’t what made that clip appealing enough to get me on board. Instead, it was the chance to feel like part of the gang. As Reem so eloquently discussed in her last column, the parasocial relationships that podcasts engender in their audiences are powerful things, and getting to feel like part of a podcaster’s wedding feeds that sense of parasocial attachment.
For example, as a regular listener, I feel like I’m intimately familiar with many of the people, situations and in-jokes referenced by Humphries’ speech, and as a result, it felt like being at a friend’s wedding. I’m particularly confident in saying that, as oddly enough, I was at a wedding last weekend which had a very similar feel (right down to the kilts). Unsurprisingly, the topic of the wedding has come up on Sloss and Humphries’ podcast multiple times over the last year or so, and indeed, the discussion of the stag party was broken up into two parts, with the second one being a Patreon-exclusive episode that I’m now very much looking forward to enjoying.
That episode was almost enough to tempt me into subscribing, but the lure of being given a window into the wedding itself was what tipped me over the edge. It’s also an example of how creative thinking can enhance a podcast subscription plan; particularly with personality-based shows, listeners aren’t just subscribing to the content, they’re subscribing to you. They want more insights into your life and your thoughts, and an update on how you’re doing can be just as appealing for potential subscribers as additional episodes.
In truth, while I’m planning to devour the back catalogue of Patreon-only episodes I now have access to, I can’t see myself signing up to any more in the near future, and that’s partly because there aren’t many podcasters that I feel as emotionally invested in as I do with Sloss and Humphries.
It’s the authenticity and laid-back chemistry of podcasts like this that inspire such devoted followings; it’s why My Dad Wrote A Porno was such a sensation, and it’s why The Rest Is Politics and The News Agents continue to dominate the charts. It’s not just that it’s hosted by funny, charismatic people that get on with each other - although that certainly helps - what really gives it the spark that inspires true fandom is that the hosts are honest and unguarded with themselves, each other and the audience.