Podcast of the Week: ROUNDTABLE LIVE!
Back when I first discovered the wonders of YouTube in about 2012, I watched a lot of Let’s Players, and one of my favorites was a bald Canadian named Northernlion. With a bottomless pit of oddball pop culture references, a sardonic sense of humor, and a headstrong obsession with hilarious tangents and never doing things the obvious way (he is credited with popularizing a tactic in DARK SOULS where you just run by everything), Ryan Letourneau ruled my watch history before I gradually shifted away from YouTube for a while. Sometime last year, nostalgia fever gripped me and I found myself drawn back to the Egglord. Turns out he’s been very productive in these few years, making his then-girlfriend his wife and accumulating quite a colorful cast of YouTubers to play and banter with.
After a few of them had a very popular discussion of their favorite games in 2014, they decided to continue making a discussion podcast about new games and developments and gossip in the industry called ROUNDTABLE LIVE! There are frequent guests, but the three other constants are Ryan’s longtime friend RockLeeSmile, a dorky lover of indie games with terrible taste in music (Dance Gavin Dance dude? Seriously?), MathasGames, the man everyone loves to hate and subject of the “Fuck Mathas” meme, and lead host BaerTaffy, a loveable oaf with a sexy, grizzled voice and often the only adult in the room.
It can be a little tough to get into these guys given their entire binders of injokes and memes from their other work together, but underneath all the talk of “Nugs,” “Madrinas Coffee,” and “Janawham Blamiston” are four guys with great chemistry and a clear love for video games. There’s not even much in the way of defined roles for them; each of them can play the wise or straight guy perfectly, expressing incredulousness at another’s ridiculous theories before launching into an over-the-top rant of their own. Baer does his best to keep things on topic, but given that his Patreon literally calls it a show about “videogames and nonsense,” he and the listener know what they’re getting into.
Making the shift from Let’s Player to podcaster makes sense given how Let’s Players have to juggle talking about the game they are playing while bringing in their own personal stories and experiences, and they both involve talking to a faceless audience rather than directly to someone. In this style of YouTubers making podcasts, I think ROUNDTABLE LIVE! is the most consistently entertaining. If you’re looking for a good place to start, their wrap-up of 2017’s E3 was especially insightful and hilarious, and I hope you’ll have as much fun with Northernlion’s crew as I have.