We're highlighting another addictive, offbeat podcast today that, like the best ones, truly makes the most of the medium and could hardly be imagined in any other format. "Getting On with James Urbaniak" is a fiction podcast that features host Urbaniak reading a different in-character monologue each episode from a different member of a rotating stable of apparently quite gifted writers. Urbaniak is a terrific performer, and Vulture calls the stories "taut, daring experiments in structure," and says that at its best moments the show "comes damn close to being art."
Many such moments are featured in the latest episode, "The Big Comeback," where we hear a very modern, very average man try to convince us that he's Frank Sinatra's son, despite an utter lack of evidence. He notes that he has one blue eye (like Sinatra) and one brown eye, but that he is "not David Bowie's son." The bit doesn't initially seem like it can support a full twenty minutes, but it deepens substantially as it passes the five minute mark, becoming a rather touching (if consistently funny) portrait of the painful desire of every human to amount to something, especially when compared to such a legendary life as Sinatra's, especially in age where there is less and less room to distinguish one's self.
The monologue morphs into a personal hit parade of Sinatra's major achievements, from early pushes for diversity to his invention of the concept album at Capitol Records in the 50s. (One line, about the moon, is a truly lovely description of Sinatra's 1955 masterpiece, "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning," marking writer Joseph Scrimshaw as a keen observer of the Sinatra's work.)
When the narrator returns to attempting to prove his wild parentage claim, he recounts being asked for DNA evidence. The character says of course he has access to Sinatra's DNA, and that we all do, because "It's spread across our entire cultural landscape, you a**hole!” Within that defense is the frustration of a man who knows that even Sinatra's popularity is slowly beginning to fade: "If a life that well documented can be forgotten so quickly, what hope do the rest of us have? Who will remember we existed at all?” Touching, heady, very funny stuff.
Title: "Getting On with James Urbaniak"
Episodes Available: 25
Episode Length: 20 minutes
Where to Download: iTunes
Host: James Urbaniak