One half of the Irish comedy hip hop duo The Rubberbandits, author, mental health crusader, history enthusiast, and ‘Gas Cuntist’, increasingly, Blindboy Boatclub has become most popular for his podcast. Over the last two years or so, this walking encyclopedia has amassed a following of over one million listeners on The Blindboy Podcast, tuning in weekly to get their advice on life, entertainment, news or history lessons peppered with interesting vernacular by a highly educated, highly intelligent, highly engaging host with a deep understanding of human psychology.
The podcast itself is a vast beast, with episodes on just about everything and anything. From philosophy, to history, to religion, to drugs, to current affairs. Anything and everything. Sometimes he’ll be interviewing someone. Sometimes he reads one of his short stories—always a real highlight in that iconic voice of his. Most episodes will have some sort of theme to pull them together, and are categorised by ‘hot takes’ that Blindboy prepares beforehand. One example of a hot take in a recent podcast, Barechest Kestrel, is Blindboy discussing the movie Groundhog Day (1993) through a Buddhist lens, particularly with reference to The Eightfold Path. He’s a master story-teller and narrator. You hang off his every beautifully Irishly-pronounced word, and it doesn’t matter how long it takes for him to get to the point, you’re along for a ride that seems somehow personally curated for you.
Blindboy has an uncanny ability to make you feel like he’s talking to YOU, ever-endearing, calling you a cunt and telling you he loves you, or requesting that you fuck off but wishing you a nice day all in the same sentence. His dedication to his podcast and his following is commendable. He’s promised to do a podcast every single week, and he even does one on Christmas day. Last Christmas’ episode, Fellas Never dad, was him reading his favourite poetry among some personable conversation with a soundscape of the ocean crashing onto a beach. Perfect for your post-Christmas lunch walk.
Being a muso, Blindboy is acutely aware of the importance of creating an atmosphere, and all of his podcasts come with a backing track or soundscapes. This all in the effort to create what Blindboy has coined ‘The podcast hug.’ Freo.Social for his live recording was a great environment for the physical manifestation of Blindboy’s podcast hug, with its inviting lights, intimate atmosphere, and two chairs with mics centre stage.
In Bonus Porpoise Torture, one of his most recent podcasts prior to arriving in Australia, Blindboy humbly requests that all of the Irish masses (and others) who attend his live podcast recordings please not get too drunk… It is a live recording after all, and decent sound quality is essential. Perhaps this should have been a bit of foreshadowing that this humble celebrity with his cult following doesn’t realise that there really are people other than his Irish compatriots who wait patiently every week to get their guidance from his podcasts. In the live recording of The Blindboy Podcast at Freo.Social, it was clear that Blindboy assumed that the audience was predominantly Irish, and perhaps not incorrectly because come question time, indeed most of the questions were asked in Irish accents. Accordingly, Blindboy seemed to make the podcast even more Irish-reference specific than usual, as though he was speaking mostly to Irish expats.
Seeing the man with the bag on his head live for the first time is a sight to behold. In his podcasts, you can’t hear the bag crinkling but you could live, which was a cool added element to the experience. It was also weirdly disconcerting not being able to see expressions on his face, but Blindboy is very animated when he talks to others, using big gestures and head nods as he laughs. It was extremely trippy watching his expressionless face as he threw his head back and laughed with gusto several times throughout his interview with comedian Chris Kent on the night.
To open the show, Blindboy treated us to a reading of one of his short stories, Gruyere in the Desmond, from his latest book of short stories, Boulevard Wren and Other Stories. This was the highlight of the night. The story is a strangely beautiful look at depression among older blokes, and how a group of guys decide to form a community around their mental health. It was a wonderful way to commence the live performance. While all of his short stories are amazing works of literature and a delight to read, there really is no better way to consume his words than through his voice reading them. Even his written work shows careful attention to sonic detail, their tempo, tone, and aural qualities make for great reading, which lays the best possible foundation for the themes explored in many, often disturbing, layers.
For the rest of the podcast, Blindboy brought on comedian and fellow Irishman Chris Kent, who is currently in town for FRINGE WORLD with his show Christy Doesn’t Live Here. Kent started off a bit slowly, but warmed his way up to hilarious as the podcast went on and the repartee between Blindboy and Kent was quality… Or as Blindboy would say, “good craic”. That being said, the majority of the podcast seemed to be based around the interview with Kent, when who we were really there to see and listen to was, of course, the man of the (several) hour(s)—Blindboy. As entertaining as the interview was, this reviewer for one would have preferred a long rant from Blindboy, with a new ‘hot take’ to consider and take forth into daily life.
Ending with questions from the audience was class, it was clear that Blindboy’s followers take him and his influence on their lives seriously, with most questions carefully thought out and posed. Blindboy responded with equal care and thought, empathetic and compassionate as ever.
The live recording of The Blindboy Podcast was good craic, a class night with a Gas Cuntist that those who were in attendance can consider themselves lucky to have been a part of.