A Bit of Banter Goes A Long Way

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Issue 317
November/December 2019
Where Do We Grow From Here?


A Bit of Banter Goes A Long Way

issue cover 317

Cover: Repair by Baracco+Wright Architects with Linda Tegg. Photograph: Roy Gardiner

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Marianne Brown enjoys a comedy podcast about the environment. Sustainababble www.sustainababble.fish

When dark times threaten to become very dark indeed, there’s something deeply therapeutic about having a good laugh about it all. Seriously. That’s why I find the tagline for the podcast Sustainababble, “Trying to be cheery in the face of impending ecological disaster”, very appealing indeed – particularly because it’s a really funny listen.

Pretty much every week since 2015 (apart from a much-lamented three-month break over the summer), podcasting duo Oliver Hayes and David Powell have exchanged bantz over topical themes like Extinction Rebellion, the UN’s “latest lolzfest” report on biodiversity, and fracking. It can get a bit sweary, but, let’s face it, using a few swear words is pretty excusable when describing the state of our planet. They both work for environmental charities – cue disclaimer that their podcast is strictly personal – and there are enough facts behind the chat to make each episode a rewarding and sometimes very surprising listen. I hadn’t thought about the carbon footprint of musicians on tour, for instance – apparently U2 have the same carbon footprint in a year as a return flight to Mars. For more on that, I recommend listening to Ol and Dave’s excellent interview from October last year with electronic musician William Doyle.

To add to the comedy effect, each episode is “intertwinkled” – their word, not mine – with short clips from films and TV shows: a joke from Absolutely Fabulous features in the episode on fast fashion, and a clip from a spoof U2 song from Spitting Image (‘Nobody Knows What I’m on About’) appears in their interview with Doyle, for example. I have to admit that sometimes I don’t actually know what these clips are on about – the barking dog can get a bit irritating at times – but that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment.

Finding a funny way to talk about serious issues is, in my experience, quite rare, which makes Sustainababble all the more entertaining. I’m even looking forward to hearing what they make of the proroguing of the UK parliament, and I can’t imagine I will be saying that in any other context.

Marianne Brown is the editor of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine, and a podcaster.

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