The This American Life spinoff podcast Serial, hosted by Sarah Koenig, has emerged as a genuine cultural phenomenon in the eight weeks since it launched. According to Apple, it’s the most popular podcast in the world–the fastest to reach 5 million downloads/streams in iTunes history, and the top podcast in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. The show, from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio, woke up a medium that otherwise seemed to be both very new and very dated.
Of course, nothing with the sort of cultural reach and impact that Serial possesses can get by without a parody, and Serial crossed that threshold with the satire (hosted on YouTube, although as an audio-only experience, obviously) created by Upright Citizens Brigade alums Paul Laudiero, Will Stephen, and Zach Cherry. The series launched on November 3 with Will Stephen playing the part of Koenig’s investigative reporter trying–in this case, ineptly–to get to the bottom of a 15-year-old murder case. There are five entries so far into the series, which nails the tone of Serial perfectly, without wearing out the joke, with each entry running two to five minutes. Those who aren’t caught up on the original podcast, meanwhile, aren’t left out of the joke: there aren’t any real spoilers here, and all it takes to pick up where Laudiero and friends are going is some familiarity with the public radio tone and voice that they clearly have spent a fair amount of time enjoying themselves. The podcasting revival is apparently underway after all.