Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People
“1 phone call. 1 hour. No names. No holds barred. That’s the premise behind Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, hosted by comedian Chris Gethard (the Chris Gethard Show, Broad City, This American Life, and one of Time Outs 10 best comedians of 2015). Every week, Chris opens the phone line to one anonymous caller, and he can’t hang up first, no matter what. From shocking confessions and family secrets to philosophical discussions and shameless self-promotion, anything can and will happen!”
Let me start this review off by saying that I think that Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People is an almost perfect premise for a podcast. It’s an hour of conversation between two strangers (one of them always, of course, Chris Gethard) about the anonymous person’s life. Ostensibly, at least.
If this podcast had a famous quote for a tagline, I think it’d be this: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” And it’s true. Every single one of these people you’re passing on the street has a story. They have their own struggles. Strangers you automatically categorize as jerks? Maybe their mom just died this week. Maybe they’re going through a breakup. Point being, taking a second to consider that you have no idea of the context for a stranger’s behavior is an important lesson to learn. And that’s the lesson that Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People can teach us.
Unfortunately, I find that Chris injects himself a little too frequently into the conversations at times--interrupting and often going on long expository monologues about stories from his own life. That might be fine if the premise of the show weren’t what it is, but I didn’t start the episode with the intention of hearing another story about Chris’ love for all things Morrissey (yes, he even has a Morrissey tattoo. We get it, you love Morrissey). Chris: Just sit back and let them tell their damn story!
All that said, when Beautiful Anonymous is good, it’s really, really good. It acts as a sort of window into a random stranger’s life that you’d otherwise likely never have an opportunity to look through. These people aren’t famous. They’re not uber successful. They’re just random people, like the rest of us, with their own struggles.
Due to the show’s nature, and to the host’s occasionally questionable hosting abilities, Beautiful Stories can be very hit-or-miss, but I recommend you check it out regardless.
Simple, but good.
Like I said, hit-or-miss
Chris Gethard can be a frustrating host to listen to. He’s a funny comedian. He’s a good actor. But when it comes to hosting he seems too eager to keep the spotlight on himself, rather than allowing it to remain fixed on the Anonymous caller.
I actually think that as the show gets more popular, it’ll probably get less and less interesting, as callers will get less and less anonymous and start calling with an agenda.
About 1 hour
Overall Score: 6.0/10
- 1: Ron Paul’s Baby
- 2: Passport, Exodus
- 5: A Real Life Superhero
- 8: Running Down a Stapler
- 10: 4 Kids, 0 Sex
- 13: Married to a Monster
- 14: Jack Mormon
If you like this podcast, you’ll probably like:
- This American Life
- Death, Sex & Money
- Only Human
- WTF with Marc Maron