Its hosts are Adam Davidson (co-creator of Planet Money, columnist at the New York Times Magazine, and Peabody award winner) and Adam McKay (comedian, writer, and director of movies like Anchorman and Talladega Nights). So far they've uploaded three episodes, all of them unsurprisingly awesome (I had to!).
From Adam Davidson, in the trailer:
"We've been on this strange quest to unearth fascinating information from topics that seem really boring ... And so, we bring you Surprisingly Awesome. It's the new podcast from Gimlet media in which Adam McKay and I scour the earth for the things you think you don't care about, and then explode the kernels of awesome inside of them."
At first I thought this show might be too similar to podcasts like Stuff You Should Know or Stuff to Blow Your Mind, but I think it's actually more in the vein of Radiolab (one of my all-time favorites). They use original interviews and music, and their sound effects are spot-on. The Adams also have a really great dynamic together and I appreciate the humor that's involved.
The first episode explores the natural history of mold. They discover one odd type that grows in the feces of deer and eventually builds up enough pressure to explode six feet up in the air. Adam McKay also meets a long-lost relative who tells him his family came to America from Ireland as a result of two mold-related incidents in the 1800s -- one that caused the great potato famine and one that destroyed the country's peat moss, which served as a key source of fuel.
Episode two takes a look at basketball's free throw. Before listening, this one was the least appealing to me but it's been my favorite so far. Adam and Adam told the story of Ted St. Martin, a dairy farmer who at the age of sixty-six shot over seven hours worth of free throws one day without missing. A man who hadn't played basketball since his high school days on the b-squad set the record of 5,221 free throws.
What it takes to make a free throw -- especially psychologically -- is not something I had ever considered before. I'm not a sports fan and haven't watched or played a game of basketball in probably a decade, yet episode two totally captivated me. I won't be buying a basketball this weekend, but I might watch a few minutes of the next game I flip past on TV, and I'd say I do have a new-found respect for athletes of all types.
Surprisingly Awesome is a show that I'll definitely be sticking with through season one. What about you? Have you listened already? Will you? I want to know, if so!