Nick Glaser gets down to the nitty-gritty with one of his guests on his FartCast at the Columbus Podcast Festival. (WOUB/Emily Votaw)

Inaugural Columbus Podcast Festival Showcases Absurdity, Humanity

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Nick Glaser is a philosopher. Probably the kind that you ought to know.

Tall, bearded and with a vaguely pensive and contained air, Glaser’s voice bears some resemblance to a contained sonic boom.

His podcast, the appropriately titled FartCast, is one of several on the docket for the first night of the inaugural Columbus Podcast Festival, staged at the Short North Stage April 27-April 28.

After a brief introduction, Glaser walks onto the stage with undeniable purpose.

“Hello Columbus Podcast Festival! It is a pleasure to be here. I’m the host of FartCast, the 60-second podcast that takes longer to explain than it does to listen to,” says Glaser. “We only have ten minutes – so that’s only enough to record about a season’s worth of episodes. So instead of trying to explain it, I’m just going to start recording, and I want a member of the audience to be my guest. Are there any brave souls out there who would like to be my guest?”

Glaser weeds through a few folks who are already onto the heart of the podcast – what some would call “the joke,” but what more appropriately could be described as a distillation of Glaser’s worldview.

A woman named Jessica, manager at a regional Family Video store, steps up, and Glaser dives right in, immediately asking her if there’s anything she wants the audience to know about herself. She describes her occupation, her store’s stacks of blu-rays and DVDs.

“Okay Jessica. Could you do me a favor and make the loudest, wettest fart noise you can into the microphone?” he asks.

Jessica purses her lips and does just that.

“There is no inherent meaning in existence other than the one you ascribe it,” said Glaser moments after his podcast’s set, describing Fartcast as a “distillation” of the podcast format, minus “all the boring stuff,” like “getting to know what a person is about and them proving that that is what they are about.”

“Nobody likes that stuff,” he says. “It’s a waste of time, and I prefer to get down to the harder stuff right away.”

Like many of the podcasters recording at the event, Glaser is a standup comedian, and everything he says is laced with a sort of sonic wink. Perhaps Glaser’s podcast is an outlier at the event – in format and straight up absurdist ideology – but it does exemplify the diversity of the Columbus podcast scene.

That great variety is something that festival organizer, comedian, and podcaster Brian Doney has known about for a while.

“From what I do in podcasting, I knew that Columbus had a podcast community, and I wondered whether it was large enough to put together an entire festival,” Doney said.

Comedian, podcaster, and Podcast Festival organizer Brian Doney introduces the Confluence Cast. (WOUB/Emily Votaw)
Comedian, podcaster, and Podcast Festival organizer Brian Doney introduces the Confluence Cast. (WOUB/Emily Votaw)

As it turns out, it certainly is.

The two-day event also served as a fundraiser for women’s reproductive rights organization, Women Have Options. The event’s allegiance with a socially minded group is just one aspect of the Columbus podcast scene showcasing its size of scope; featuring podcasts that focus on everything from the banality and absurdity of existence to the potential each of us has as a human being.

Christine Horvath is a comedian and host of Babes to Know, a podcast that centers on important figures of all varieties in Columbus.

“When you see the beauty in someone, speak it,” said Horvath of the central theme of her podcast. “I focus on interviewing people, mostly artists and activists, who are doing really great things in the community but aren’t being covered by traditional media.”

Tim Fulton’s Confluence Cast bears resemblance to Horvath’s in that it is tied directly to Columbus. It’s weekly, and it touches on entertainment, lifestyle and lots of other aspects of living in the state’s capital.

During it’s recording at the festival, the Confluence Cast featured Mikey Soboro, the founder of Columbus’ ubiquitous Mikey’s Late Night Slice.

“How’d you start a pizza shop?” asks Fulton, lean, spectacled and dressed in a suit.

“Well,” laughed Sorboro. “I wanted to start out with the fact that we were just talking about how I wasn’t your first choice for this interview.”

Fulton, Sorboro and the audience laugh.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a live podcast before,” said Doney in an interview the day before the festival. “But it’s pretty fun.”