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The Opinion Club

The Opinion Club is not your ordinary Fringe show. It's online, it's free, and, well, it's a podcast.

For four weeks during the Fringe, you can join host Penny Hall for special “Fringe-themed” episodes of The Opinion Club, the reasonably fun podcast. Hear Josh Stewart (Fresh Dada) chat about aliens and cults, Sam Benton (Energy Theatre) discuss food spread pedantry, Rebecca Parker (Wheels of Justice) talk misspelled tattoos, and Annabel Harris and Abigail Ennor (Little Town Liars) hold court on marketing, museums and the politics of the Classical world. The time for conversation is now, and what a time it is. For the uninitiated, a podcast is kind of like a radio show on the internet, but anyone can do them (as long as they have exceptional skill and charisma). People like Ricky Gervais do them. This particular podcast provides a weekly unscripted conversation between host Penny Hall and her guests, the topics provided by listeners or brought along by the guests. “Episodes wander as easily through discussions on education reform and women's rights as comparisons of Community characters and whether one should scrunch or fold one's toilet paper.”

The Opinion Club is the brainchild of Penny's Christchurch-based production company Hookfish Productions. Starved for conversation in earthquake-worn Christchurch, and unwilling to join a book club because she'd "have to read other people's books", she took to the internet and created The Opinion Club in October 2012, hosting different guests each week. Since then it has gathered a regular and devoted following, with listeners in Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Canada, Egypt and France, to say nothing of the legion of fans in Wellington. It is available for download and subscription on iTunes, Android, and directly from its website: The podcast is equal parts play and debate, with episodes wandering as easily through discussions on education reform (Episode 7) and women's rights (Episode 4) as comparisons of Community characters (Episode 2) and whether one should scrunch or fold one's toilet paper (Episode 1). “I wanted to contribute something to the internet that focused more on connection and recognising commonality with a stranger than tearing someone apart because they disagree with you,” says Penny. “That notion of common experience is the essence of comedy so we love that aspect of the conversations the podcast provokes, but it's just as valuable when you're talking about more solemn or thought-provoking topics. Being able to be reasonable and to laugh together even as you disagree forcefully with someone, that is a truly great thing.” “The podcast is great to listen to when you’re on a train, plane, car, or any other moving vehicle. You can also listen to it while stationary.”

- iTunes review (5 stars)

Neither Penny nor any of the guests are experts on their conversation topics, but that is really the point: it is fun to listen to people figure things out, to think about one solution to a problem only to find it's a dead-end, or to laugh at the absurdity of something they didn't know before. There is joy in learning how other people think, even if the subject is ridiculous, and even if it is different from what you think yourself. Listen to the Fringe episodes for a bit of fun and argument with some of the finest people involved in the Fringe 2013. Episodes released February 15 and 22, March 1 and 8 (regular episodes available now).

The Opinion Club is available for download on iTunes, Android, and directly from the website:


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