Longform podcasts are a genre of their own and Timesuck, with every episode at two-plus hours, is certainly at the forefront. The podcast is a time warp into the annals of history and explores the stories tied with the truth.
You’ll hear host Dan Cummins say this a bunch of times. Fans of this cult show use it as a greeting, tongue firmly in cheek. Cummins is a comedian and Nimrod and Bojangles are some of the fictional characters he has created that have become a staple of his show. These characters show up a lot.
The podcast deals with various fascinating topics, straight from the rabbit holes that many of us might have gone down while googling weird facts. Each episode deals with a premise voted on by fans, and Cummins describes himself as the voice of this ‘community project’. Expect anything from Da Vinci to the American Civil War, from ‘lost’ technologies to urban legends like the Russian Sleep Experiment.
Sounds a bit on the dark side? It is, kinda. But Cummins adeptly brings out the humour. With today’s insane polarization of our society, it is refreshing to have something to listen to that is a ‘safe space’ for dark jokes, silliness and an open mind to rethink historical events and figures.
Cummins is a superb host. It is downright inspiring to see how he conducts a voluminous amount of research for every episode. For example, the episode on Genghis Khan begins with a background on what Mongolia is like – its geography, weather, culture, economy and society. This obsessive detailing is a cherry on top and makes the narrative much more immersive.
The episodes are explicit and include gory details that might be discomforting for the faint-hearted. All of this makes the show even more realistic though, so if you can stand the narrative, you will certainly enjoy it. After all, history has always been more violent than you can imagine.
Production-wise we could find no fault. Parallels can, of course, be drawn with another history podcast hosted by a comedian – The Dollop. But The Dollop has a second comedian reacting to those stories which makes it so much more alive. That’s one thing we missed in Timesuck. Some of the outlandish facts scream for a reaction, but there is no one else in the studio with Cummins. This is extreme nit-picking, though. Timesuck makes up for this lack of a co-host with music, sound effects and the plethora of recurring characters.
Timesuck definitely deserves the time it will suck out of your life. Listen