Be a Little “Obscure” with Comedian Michael Ian Black

I’m planning to save a list of my favorite podcasts for a future post, but I had to take a moment to share this one in particular:

What do you do with that one particular book that just sits on your shelf? The one assigned to you in school that you only pretended to read? The one you refuse to throw out or give away, whether out of guilt, ego, or pure laziness?

For actor, writer, and comedian Michael Ian Black, that book is Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure. And what did he decide to do? Well, read the book out loud for a podcast, of course!

If his name doesn’t automatically ring a bell for you, you’re not alone. Black himself admits that his career is not entirely “mainstream”. But even if you’re not completely aware of his resume, it’s very likely you’ve seen him on one of your favorite TV shows (Reno 911!, Another Period, VH1’s I Love the…80s/90s/Millennium) or featured in one of your favorite movies (Wet Hot American Summer, This is 40).

But it’s his slightly abstruse career and comedy that makes him the perfect host for Obscure. Not only does he literally read from the book (the most current episode is in the middle of Chapter 3), but he interjects his own often sarcastic and always entertaining commentary along the way. Sometimes this commentary turns into interviews or stories about Black’s life, which although can be slightly distracting from the novel always stays in line with the theme of the podcast: obscurity.

Admittedly, there are a few things that still need some work. The first episode or two is a bit advertisement heavy as Black searches for the balance between anecdote and sponsorship. Music placement is also occasionally off, sometimes mirroring that one episode of Family Guy where they see the movie “Distracting Trumpet” featuring an Italian mob boss vocally competing with a guy playing a trumpet louder and louder and louder.

Bottom line: if you’re looking for an excuse to read Jude the Obscure – or even if you’re not – and want something beyond the normal audiobook, check out Obscure today. There have only been 4 episodes so far, so you’ll be able to catch up in no time.

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