Podcast of the Week: THE DOLLOP
Chances are, if you’re the type of person who would be interested in THE DOLLOP, you’re already aware of it. At just over 300 episodes strong, this comedic American history podcast has an incredibly devoted international fanbase. If edutainment podcasts that skewer American culture are your thing, you’ve no doubt at least dipped your toes into THE DOLLOP, which traditionally would mean we wouldn’t cover it in this weekly column. In case you happen to have missed it, THE DOLLOP is Dave Anthony’s weekly podcast, taking a look at little-known moments and figures from American history, as told to his friend Gareth Reynolds, who never knows anything about the topic at hand. However, this week, Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds achieved something remarkable that’s worth highlighting.
There have obviously been hours of podcasting devoted to Donald Trump in the last two years: the New York Times ran a really great series where they interviewed one of Trump’s former biographers, and the NPR series EMBEDDED has been doing long-form pieces on Trump for awhile now. These series do a decent job capturing some of the madness of the current Commander-in-Chief, but they fail to really put Trump’s life as a whole into perspective. They fail due in part to the tone in which they feel compelled to cover Trump; the New York Times and NPR have to gravely enumerate the continual string of horrors that Trump has gotten away with, and this doesn’t exactly work when the man in question is a essentially sexually predacious, racist carnival barker.
The difficult thing about Trump is that his life story is so utterly absurd, and so quintessentially American, that he’s impossible to take seriously but also extremely difficult to satirize. The trick, it turns out, is to simply lay out what Trump has said and done as plainly as possible and be willing to laugh at it. This is exactly how Dave Anthony chose to approach his three-hour-long, two-episode series on Trump for the 300th episode of THE DOLLOP, and the end result is breathtaking. Over the course of three hours, we’re forced to confront how cartoonishly corrupt Trump was in his business practices, how viciously he’s abused women, and how vehemently racist he’s been at every opportunity. Gareth Reynolds, the show’s constant comedic relief, slowly degrades over the course of the series and eventually stops being able to provide many punchlines. The sheer magnitude of what Trump has managed to get away with for his whole life would be hysterical were he not currently the most powerful person in the world, and only a show like THE DOLLOP could really capture that.