Cover photo of Daniel Burkett’s podcast, Dan’s Dabble in Babble
By: Marco Camuzzi
I’ll be straightforward and say this: I HATE PODCASTS! There is nothing that makes me want to take a long walk off a very short pier more than listening to a podcast. Some podcasters talk for three hours straight, usually going on random, meaningless tangents about topics that I couldn’t care less about when they’re supposed to be talking about something I’m actually interested in. They bore me. I don’t learn much of anything from them and I just wish I could see their faces.
In a strange change of pace, I’ve actually enjoyed a podcast lately, and surprise, it comes from everyone’s favorite chemistry teacher: Daniel Burkett. In each episode of his podcast, Dan’s Dabble in Babble, the star, Burkett, “dabbles” in exploring the lifestyle and culture of modern American society alongside an eclectic mix of guests that range from stand-up comedians to even Olympic Athletes. Well done, Mr. Burkett. You finally got something nice out of me! Dan’s Dabble in Babble provides unique, interesting perspectives that taught me a lot. I can see the Hot or Rot scale slowing boiling.
When I approached Burkett for an interview, I asked the most obvious question, “Why a podcast? Of all the things, why?” His response was, “Mainly out of boredom… I thought it’d be interesting to hear from people in a lot of different industries.” He also mentioned that it was an opportunity to chat with and learn from people that he would have otherwise never spoken to.
Burkett told me to listen to two specific episodes, and naturally, I didn’t listen. I mean I did listen to those specific episodes but ended up listening to almost all of it on one very lonely night on the couch, my only company, a cheeseboard. That cheese board was a total HOT, by the way. Gouda is so good!
While I found the myriad of guests of the podcast very amusing, the most interesting aspect had to be the solo/personal stories about my former chemistry teacher’s life. Back in his class (the superior G block), we would incessantly ask questions about his personal life. Maybe it was the way he told it or all the crazy experiences he has gone through, but whatever it was, his answers (when he would answer) always fascinated us and kept the entire class on the edge of our seats. That sense of intrigue created in those little moments is so nicely replicated in his podcast, in spades might I add.
In one of his episodes, Burkett discusses how he made up his best-man speech on the spot, a colorful story about heading to his hometown for a wedding with his current boyfriend. While he talks about what it was like being there, the real meat and potatoes was the wedding and his speech. He went on stage with a mic and started saying the speech as he went. Improv at its finest. I asked whether this was the formula for his solo/personal episodes. To quote Burkett, “I thought a lot about the kind of points I wanted to hit, but definitely a similar vibe… I think it’s a lot more organic that way.” He said he derives his inspiration from Be There in Five by Kate Kennedy and Midnight Snack by Michelle Collins.
Burkett also said that being an effective communicator is what allows the topics to translate well to an audience and that there is an overlap in that with his teaching. I think that honestly is what makes his podcast so entertaining. Unlike West Side Story, which made me want to look for the West Side Bridge, I honestly craved more. I cared to hear about my chemistry teacher’s life and what he thought about it. His storytelling skills in this section are what simply make it for me, and I give it a HOT in this regard.
I find his entire attitude as a host and as a person very charming. His genuine and cheerful disposition adds significantly to his storytelling, making the topics feel more personal and positive. In my mind, popularity is fickle and means nothing; I see so much of it every day that it makes me sick. However, Mr. Burkett’s podcast has a popularity that is neither fickle nor fake; it has a sense of humor and honesty that makes it quite an enjoyable and intimate experience for those listening. I rate this again…… a HOT, I mean it is scorching good. The down-to-earth relatability, the upbeat positivity, the touching life advice, and everything else that drives the show all come from our very entertaining emcee, Daniel Burkett.
I bet a lot of the people reading this are asking me to “talk about his guests and who he’s had on,” but what is the point of that? Go listen to it, I am not your Spark Notes.
I wondered how his life has changed because of this newfound popularity, socially at the very least. He answered, “I’ve been really touched. There are a lot of coworkers I know listen and I know students have found it and students listen, too. When I started the podcast, I really didn’t expect it to be anything, but I am really touched to know that people take the time and listen and enjoy it.” It seems his podcast is continuing to grow as more fans and even sponsors check it out.
I thought it would be worth asking how one goes about getting a sponsor. Is it like the olden days when you had to pose in black white and look like a struggling, mentally-deranged person to get discovered? Did you have to call a rich friend or beg a well-connected relative for help? Or did you have to cry at the feet of a highly respected executive while people silently judged your lack of self-respect? Y’know the simple, classic ways of getting discovered and made into a star.
Well, as it turns out, it was pretty simple for Burkett, and thankfully allowed him to keep his dignity. There are a variety of websites where you can plead your case to as many companies or organizations as you want for sponsorships. Although, he says, “You get a lot more ‘no’s’ than ‘yeses.’” So with that in mind, a sponsor is within a very close-ish distance as long as you are up for a lot of writing, plenty of groveling, and have a little bit of luck.
Now for those wanting to somehow become popular/famous/somewhat special to make you feel better about yourself, unfortunately, I have some bad news about your future cameo, superstar. Burkett avoids having students on his show. To use his own words, “It could be perceived as favoritism.” Now, folks, you all know what that means. Look for Jake Kowalski to make an appearance at some point. Just wait! We all know Jake is his favorite student. Due to this terrible, horrendous disappointment, the HOT meter has shifted slightly.
In all seriousness, though, after listening and interviewing Burkett, the best advice I took is to just dive in—just like in his skydiving episode. Many people today are soft and can barely dip their toes in something. This podcast is a good reminder to not be afraid and just dive into things headfirst. Every guest he has does this, from someone from the world of Bitcoin, to a lesbian comedian. If we as humans did more head-first diving like Burkett and his guests, we’d probably be better off for it.
Until next time my dearest readers, I leave you with this: in this ever-suffocating past few years, at least Dan’s Dabble in Babble is there to give us a hint of style and joy within our lives.
Your Drama Addict