For transparency, I was given the audio drama segments of the upcoming Spirits episodes for the purpose of review. I also contributed to them; however, I contributed as a fan, before I knew what the project was going to be.
As a fan of podcasts that talk about mythology, cryptids, folklore, and the like, Spirits has long been one of my favorite nonfiction podcasts. The conversational nonfiction show is hosted by Julia Schifini (in the role of the expert) and Amanda McLoughlin (in the role of the enthusiast). The two drink and discuss myths and legends, including how they may have been first conceived and how they remain relevant to the world today.
Somewhat recently, Spirits has begun compiling episodes made up of listeners’ hometown urban legends. Beginning in the third episode of the recurring series, a strange trend started to emerge: several listeners had stories about hauntings at the Spaghetti Warehouse, a strange, kitschy restaurant with bizarre theming and mediocre Italian food. The Spaghetti Warehouse became a sort of in-joke for Spirits, especially when, in “Episode 54: Your Urban Legends IV,” more stories were told about the restaurant and its perhaps competitor, perhaps replica, The Old Spaghetti Factory.
For Spirits‘s second anniversary, the team is giving listeners an absolutely delightful, hilarious gift: an in-show audio drama that revolves around editor Eric Schneider being taken by the ghost of the Spaghetti Warehouse, who mistakes him for her deceased husband.
Spirits doing an audio drama is both a natural choice and a delightful surprise. Hosts McLoughlin and Schifini have both appeared in audio dramas, whether it be their guest episode on Greater Boston, McLoughlin’s D&D actual play podcast Join the Party, or Schifini’s long, long list of audio drama credits. The series’s writer, Eric Silver, also works on Join the Party as the campaign’s Dungeon Master, and his incredible ability to blend comedy and drama carries over perfectly to this spaghetti-tastic story. Still, Spirits has always seemed audio drama supportive without ever dipping into the medium. As a result, this arc is the perfect treat for Spirits fans who also love audio dramas as well as Spirits fans who haven’t heard much audio drama, but are sure to be pleasantly surprised with this anniversary special.
The episodes to come starting today (1/29/18) feature a slew of audio drama creators to add to the cast. A few podcasting greats take the center stage as the Spaghetti Factory ghost and paranormal expert, while the third episode features plenty of voices from the audio drama community giving testimonials about their spooky Spaghetti Warehouse experiences. The acting in the episodes is genuine when the contrast is played for comedy and hammed up when the absurdity of the situation is the focus. These episodes switch tones effortlessly while still feeling cohesive from story to story, leading to episodes that had me laughing out loud on several occasions.
If you’re already a Spirits fan, get ready for an anniversary that will have you wanting mediocre, reasonably priced pasta and spumoni from inside a probably-haunted trolley car for this show’s delightful second anniversary. If you’re not already listening to Spirits, these special episodes are a perfect indication of what makes the show such a fun listen. To make sure you can follow along with the special episodes best, I’d recommend taking a listen to both “Episode 50: Your Urban Legends III” and “Episode 54: Your Urban Legends IV.”
You can find Spirits on any podcatcher or on their website.