The PosCast is one of my favorite things on earth. That is not hyperbole. I like a lot things. At the top of the hierarchy, there’s my family and friends, followed closely by Boston-based sports teams, various musicians and a bunch of movies and tv shows. The PosCast is in the mix with the musicians, movies and tv shows and rising fast. Up your game 30 Rock, Real Genius and Clifford Brown/Max Roach, or else Joe and Michael are going to pass you by.
The truly wonderful thing about The PosCast is that all of the reasons that I was drawn to it and that would ordinarily define it as a wonderful podcast are not just wildly irrelevant to its entertainment value, but they seem to be completely at odds with all that is wonderful about it. The PosCast features my favorite sportswriter- Joe Posnanski- speaking with my favorite television writer and Boston sports fan- Michael Schur. It should be, by any reasonable conception of what a podcast with a brilliant sportswriter and a brilliant comedy writer, a witty and thoughtful analysis of sports and culture. It is that, in a way. But that “way” is only a “way” in some kind of Toaist sense. It is a “way” that is achieved by rejection of all “ways.” It is brilliance and insight achieved with careful inanity.
Since I assume, and this assumption is completely in line with the assessment of Michael and Joe as stated in every episode of The PosCast, that I am the only listener willing to stick with this thing past the first few minutes, I feel the need to proselytize, lest this wonderful thing that should probably not exist cease to exist.
To this end, I have distilled the many hours of listening pleasure I have gleaned from The PosCast into a formula for the perfect PosCast. This is the Platonic ideal, the pure image of PosCastness for which all actual PosCasts are merely shadows- vague projections of the true divine PosCast form.
Part 1- The Sponsor Read
The perfect PosCast must begin with the perfect sponsor copy performance. Whereas copy-reading perfection in the podcast genre in general might be a pitch-perfect reading of the ad or an improvised, heartfelt endorsement of the product by the hosts, the perfect PosCast requires the antithesis of those two ideals. Joe must fumble the basic description of the product, ideally possessing some verbal tick that stands in direct contrast to the product’s intended effect. Think the Hooked-on-Phonics girl mispronouncing everything and speaking with a drunken slur. A reading that unfortunate is the ideal here.
Following this clumsy and possibly baffling explanation of the product, Michael enters. If the sponsor in question might have gained any possible benefit from Joe’s attempt at advertising, Michael is there to unravel it completely. Ideally, he doesn’t disparage the product, but it’s entire industrial sector, eventually concluding that if a product like Hooked-On-Phonics is looking to help him out, it should eliminate reading entirely and just upload books into his brain directly, preferably after drugging him so he is totally oblivious to the entire process of reading and even reading as a concept on this planet.
Following this, the duo comes together to lement the fact that the sponsor is certainly going to be furious if they ever take the totally unimaginable step of listening to The PosCast and speculate about the guy who set this whole thing in motion getting fired for it, his only saving grace being that no one (but me, of course) listens to this thing anyway.
This might seem like a poor advertising strategy, but against all odds, it is completely effective. I have never wanted to sign up for Dollar Shave Club more than after listening to Michael pining for someone to chloroform him and shave him while he lay there unconscious. I may even go as far as to jump into the whole tech startup game and disrupt some poor industry for the sole purpose of sponsoring The PosCast. How about pens? Pens suck, right? Big Writing, you are official on notice! Let’s do this thing.
Part 2- The Draft
The PosCast is ostensibly a sports podcast and that would seem to make drafts a natural fit. The interesting thing here is that the sports-related drafts are by far the least interesting ones. Sure, I enjoy Joe’s deep knowledge of sports and sports history and Michael’s 30-something, Last-suffering-generation, Boston-sports-fan perspective is right there in my happy place. It isn’t that the sports-based drafts don’t have their charm. Anything that brings Steve Grogan back into the world’s consciousness is just fine with me. It is just that The PosCast drafts are engaging in exactly inverse proportion to the engagingness of the subject. Give these guys a hot button issue and you get cold rationality, thoughtfulness and tempered takes. Find the most inane thing possible and you have a battle royale. Oscar Wilde once said, “all trivial things should be treated seriously,” and that could well be the logline for The PosCast. You don’t know that you want to hear two grown men, both masters of elegance and expression, drafting ill-defined categories like “Furniture,” “US currency” and “beverages” but you do. You really do.
Not only should the topic be as inane as possible, preparation should be nil. In fact, preparation should be thoroughly disparaged. In the recent Super Bowl “emergency” PosCast, Joe looked something up before the PosCast. My heart sank. Listen to me Joe, I don’t come here for your informed opinion or your hard-won knowledge, you have a blog, approximately 70 gigs for major news outlets and those books of yours out there for me if I want that. I come to the PosCast for your complete and total lack of preparation. As Crash told Nuke, “don’t think, you can only hurt the team.” Thankfully, Michael made no such error and brought a near total lack of command of the subject to the table like true team player.
Armed with little to no knowledge of the subject matter, Michael and Joe trade picks for a while, until, somewhere around the third pick, Michael declares that Joe has blown the entire draft and cannot hope for redemption. This is key to any draft. In the perfect PosCast, Joe concedes the loss a pick or two later after seeing the things he overlooked drafted by Michael with much indignation about the fact that they are still on the board. Other draft highlights should include Michael revealing that some wonderful Office or Parks and Rec line is actually based on his own life and Joe picking something he doesn’t like at all out of either some sense of obligation or his inability to think of anything else to pick. A pick should be traded for a future pick for no reason at all and the later compensation pick should be entirely forgotten for future picks.
Part 3- Roger Goodell
Roger Goodell is commissioner of the PosCast. In this capacity, his only role is to fine Michael Schur for illegal draft tactics. All punishments are severe and will be delivered by FedEx.
Part 4- The End
No other work of art (is that the right term?) more aggressively challenges the axiom, “it is better to burn out then to fade away.” The perfect ending to a PosCast is that the PosCasts fizzles out so subtly that I don’t realize it is over until halfway through that day’s episode of The Ringer’s NBA Podcast. Somewhere along the lines, we should have heard that commissioner Goodell had Michael executed for some draft infraction.
If you have read this far, you might be under the impression that I am being sarcastic. That is false. It may be hard to understand. It is certainly impossible to adequately explain, but this is, in fact, the formula for the perfect PosCast. I hope against hope that Joe and Michael read this and follow it religiously. Or that they never read it and continue to make the PosCast without preparation for purely selfish reasons. That would be fine too.