In a “podcastsphere” oversaturated with samey celebrity interviews, Storytime with Seth Rogen is a breath of fresh air.
The concept sounds standard enough: actor and comedian Seth Rogen asks famous friends to tell a personal story. But Rogen transforms the stories into breezy “audio documentaries” that are, by turns, wholesome, funny and surprisingly revelatory.
The first episode, Glorious Basterds, is a definitive rejection of that old adage, “never meet your heroes”, as comedian Quinta Brunson recalls her chance encounter with Paul Rudd at a matinee of Inglourious Basterds, where he inspired her to leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses to pursue freely a career in comedy.
Rogen being Rogen, he’s able to follow up on any name drops but, when he calls Rudd to confirm the story, the actor says he has no recollection of it. Taking that as evidence of his routine niceness, Rogen asks where he gets it from, and his answer leads to the discovery of a chain reaction of acts of kindness.
True to his friendly stoner persona, Rogen proves an affable and curious host who knows when to dig deeper. In episode 2, David Crosby’s reminiscence of his friendship with the “quiet Beatle”, George Harrison, leads to some deep dives into how music works – as well as the differences between US and European joint-rolling habits.
But where Storytime shines is in the way it enlivens a conversational format that’s long grown stale. Trimming the chit-chat, each episode clocks in at about 30 minutes. And, to hilarious effect, the producers go big and whimsical with the sound design – not least the echoes and other effects that underscore the major story beats.
I can still hear the church choir singing Rudd’s name.