By now, you’ve likely heard the term “podcast” thrown around a million times: comedians, news broadcasting networks, cartoonists, videogame developers—it seems everyone has a podcast. If you’re behind the times and are looking to add podcasts to your workout or housecleaning regiment, The Nav is here to help you navigate the ever-expanding terrain of the podcast universe.
This week, we’ll take a look at my favourite of all podcasts, The Duncan Trussell Family Hour. Born out of the cosmically weird mind of LA comedian Duncan Trussell, The Duncan Trussell Family Hour has become a powerhouse for philosophical, spiritual, and absurdist discussion. Trussell originally hosted a podcast, The Lavender Hour, alongside his now ex-girlfriend and comedienne Natasha Leggero, which came to an abrupt end, much to the despair of the podcast’s large fanbase.
It wasn’t long before Trussell returned with his own The DTFH, an hour-plus long weekly podcast featuring his famous opening rants, which are often deeply personal and spiritual in nature, and his hilarious take on advertising his show’s sponsors (did you know Sure Design t-shirts are woven from silk rendered from wild baby tears?). Each week, Trussell sits down with a guest and engages in the most energetic, mind-bending, reality-dissolving conversations possible outside of an LSD trip.
Not only is The DTFH a hilarious and enlightening look at government, spirituality, philosophy, psychedelics, and technology, but it has also become an extremely intimate show, with Trussell inviting his listeners unabashedly into his personal life. The emotional intensity of the show was amped up significantly when Trussell’s mother was diagnosed with progressive breast cancer. There are a couple of powerful, tear-jerker episodes with Trussell interviewing his terminally ill mother (episode 43: “My Mom”), and then again on her death bed (episode 64: “My Mom Pt. 2”). Shortly after, in December 2012, Trussell was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which he announced on his show, and spent many of the following episodes spiritually navigating the fear and anxiety surrounding his illness. Although intense and personal, these episodes delve into the structures of relationships and love, how to heal and move on from grief, and how to live fully in the present moment. Trussell is never more than a sentence away from gut-busting humor, but he is at his most charismatic when channeling his spiritual voice and sharing his methods of maintaining a peaceful life through the struggles he has faced since starting his podcast.
The DTFH features an array of special and recurring guests, notably fellow comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan, whose show The Joe Rogan Experience Trussell frequently appears on. Trussell’s guests are most often writers and philosophers engaged in spiritual enlightenment, such as Ragu Marcus and David Silver of Ram Dass’s Love Serve Remember Foundation; Graham Hancock, writer of Fingerprints of the Gods; and Dr. Chris Ryan, author of Sex at Dawn and fellow Feral Audio podcaster. Trussell also invites various LA comedians to his show, such as Brendan Walsh, Ari Shaffir, Pete Holmes, Natasha Leggero, Tim Heidecker, and even a couple episodes with Community creator Dan Harmon.
If you’re interested in getting into The Duncan Trussell Family Hour, I recommend starting from the very beginning, so you can follow the emotional arcs of the show, which are integral to understanding a lot of the spiritual and meditative conversation had throughout the series.
If you’re looking for a more casual listen (and you’re a fan of the hit TV series Adventure Time), episode 63 features Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward and lead storyboard artist Jesse Moynihan, and makes for a hilarious, energetic, and often touching conversation. If tearing back the fabric of reality is more your style, then check out any of the episodes featuring Trussell’s best friend and musician, Emil Amos, of the band Holy Sons.