Podcasts I Love: Menkind

Menkind is a podcast hosted by comedian Mark Watson and former Great British Bake Off baker Michael Chakraverty, in which they interview guests about masculinity.

The questions remain the same, but their guests change for each episode. Watson and Chakraverty have a great rapport together which helps their guests relax easily into the (often deep but always entertaining) discussions about masculinity.

The range of guests has been impressive, including cis women, gay men, bi men, straight men, polyamorous men, lesbians, actors, comedians, drag stars, authors, sports players and musicians.

So far they have interviewed the likes of Tom Daley, Alastair Campbell, Rufus Hound, Nathaniel Curtis, Bethany Black, Nikesh Shukla, Joe Black, Lane Rogers and Jessica Fostekew as well as many others.

In an interview with The Guardian, Chakraverty explains the thread that connects each of their guests: “Everyone has sort of felt ‘othered’ at some point,” he says, with Watson chiming in to say: “A lot of people have talked about how masculinity is a performance for everyone.”

They ask questions such as:

When did you first become aware of the concept of “masculinity”?

Growing up, do you remember being presented with an idea of how boys are supposed to be?

Composite: PR Handout; Gregory Haney

Here’s the podcast blurb:

Michael Chakraverty (Bake Off legend) is gay, brown, and obsessed with girl band Little Mix to a degree that is a bit strange; Mark Watson (scrawny cult comedian) is straight, white, likes football and drinking. The two of them have almost no interests in common. They hadn’t even met until they recorded the first episode of this podcast. Also, Mark is 40 whereas Michael is a baby and doesn’t remember things like Teletext and hadn’t heard of Bovril until recently (Mark is writing this, incidentally). The intersection of their worlds provides a space for a series of fascinating discussions with a diverse range of remarkable people.

It’s been observed that there is no shortage of podcasts out there in which men talk back and forth, sometimes – for variety – including a third or fourth man as guest. What you don’t see enough of is men stepping back and examining masculinity itself. What does it mean to be a ‘man’ in 2020? How many of the traditional expectations and tropes of ‘manhood’ still stand up, and how many need to be discarded? How can we be better men, and how can ‘men’ in general be a better, gentler, more positive influence upon the planet they’ve done considerable damage to for (to be generous) a couple of thousand years?

How, at the same time, can we celebrate all the things that are good about man-ship? If we were building a new model for a ‘perfect’ man, what would it look like – temperamentally and also dick-wise? And can we address these questions with the sense of fun that only a comedian and a world-class baker-turned-entertainer can offer?

Listen to a sample episode via Spotify below and follow the Menkind podcast on Twitter.

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