Alice Isn’t Dead, The Axe Files, The Hilarious World of Depression.

Spooky stories are very popular in Podland. The fact that podcasts must be sought out, and that listeners belong to a select and almost secret group chimes with a sense of the arcane, like an old bookshop or a discovered manuscript. Fans of the weird are proprietorial and forgiving. At the Podcast Review Show we’re not so bound. Alice Isn’t Dead is a supernatural thriller with shades of The Hitcher and Spielberg’s Duel. It’s a quest and a chase from the people that brought us Welcome to Night Vale, but whereas that show is informed by 1950’s B-movie sci-fi paranoia and achieves it’s effect through a kind of impressionism and wry humour, Alice is literal, descriptive and somewhat less engaging.

Like the protagonists in Pod Save America, David Axelrod is an ex-Obama staffer, but unlike those young firebrands, his is a soothing voice of the moderate establishment. He knows the right people and how to talk to them. He founded the University of Chicago Institute of Politics – an organisation tasked with engaging young people (that is to say, the collegiate) in the world of American politics. As was, pre-Trump, natch. It’s no surprise, then that the guests on the Axe Files are given an easy ride.But, as Richard says, it is a chance for them to state for the record who they are and what they believe and, as such, is not without some encyclopedic value.

At the start of each episode of The Hilarious World of Depression, host John Moe asks his guest if there is anything funny about depression. ‘Ridiculous, maybe’, is Dick Cavett’s take. Given that 20% of us suffer from mental illness at some time or another, it’s crucial that we eradicate any stigma surrounding the discussion of it. But to make a show with that stated aim, you need to be urgent and entertaining, otherwise you’re not going to break out of your virtuous circle. The Hilarious World needs a little kick to make that jump.

Listen to episode 20: