Recommend boring people taking about kind of boring things?
December 15, 2021 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Strangely, I've found that videos of people just talking about something that interests them, often many short videos about slightly different variations of a thing, are really good background noise. But I'm running out of good topics to search for! Help me out please?

I'm looking for low production value talking about some subjects that I can 100% zone out on but if I do pay attention to for a few minutes I can follow along without being lost. Audiobooks, for instance, are horrible for this because you can't drop in and out. What I'm really trying to avoid is videos with music, or sound effects or a talker who is trying to Be Exciting And Engage With The Audience! It helps if the person is prolific since I want this on as background noise. For instance my last topic that I've kind of burnt out on was pen and paper reviews. Because even though I kind of like the subject, someone just talking about pens and paper cannot be exciting, and if you listen in to one review it's not like you are going to miss much context about yet another pen.

(Oh, and it can't be about a subject that's topical or makes me grumpy, so no politics or state of the world stuff.)
posted by aspo to Media & Arts (40 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried the Sleep With Me podcast? It's a guy droning on about stories that go nowhere. It helps people go to sleep, so maybe it will make you too sleepy, but it is boring also. There's more than a thousand hours.
posted by Mid at 1:12 PM on December 15, 2021 [5 favorites]

Weirdly, medical symposia or grand rounds on YouTube are good for this. Even more traumatic situations tend to get treated pretty dryly and abstractly (though I'd still not choose, e.g., pediatric rhabdoid tumors).
posted by praemunire at 1:17 PM on December 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I haven't, but I think part of the appeal is that these are things that someone seems to legitimately care about and wants to share with the world. People talking about slightly boring hobbies and interests can be kind of fun if you don't have any obligation to pay attention and can shut them up with the press of button.
posted by aspo at 1:17 PM on December 15, 2021

There is a podcast called The Boring Talks, which is supposed to meet this brief. I actually find it quite interesting, but your tolerance may vary.
posted by JJZByBffqU at 1:20 PM on December 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Weird Explorer, on YouTube, gives very detailed and caring reviews of fruits that he finds all around the world. They're all pretty calm and low energy, without requiring close attention. I love them.
posted by meese at 1:25 PM on December 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

I think his most recent series on the Eocene might not satisfy your need to immediately come back to the present and comprehend, but I think Nick Zentner's Geology 101 series from Central Washington last year might be appropriate. The pre-requisites are low, and I'd never found geology interesting, but Nick may be too engaging.

If you like that, check out his series on Exotic Terranes (26 1-hour sessions) - I use this in exactly the way you're talking about, but it is a little deeper on the lingo and concepts the further you get into the series.
posted by SoundInhabitant at 1:30 PM on December 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

This guy on Youtube Steve1989MREInfo reviewing MREs might scratch this itch.
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 1:30 PM on December 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Nail polish reviews. There are hundreds of them on YT, some of them are as short as a few minutes or can be as long as an hour. They're generally people just talking about a new nail polish collection, swatching them on their nails, and talking about the formula. Some will probably be more to your preference than others - I know of one who acts very perky in the intro but her actual review content is straightforward.

The ones I watch are:

Go Polished

Polished Mage

Kelli Marissa

MissHollBerries - she switched over to mommy vlogging but her old stuff has a lot of nail polish


Phoebe Moon
posted by Constance Mirabella at 1:35 PM on December 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Try this video, Portable Air Conditioners - why you shouldn't like them, and see if you enjoy his style. He's got a whole channel called Technology Connections. Medium production value, not trying to be over-the-top engaging, but is actually shockingly educational if you pay attention.

Also, this video on Antique Clock Restoration and its accompanying channel. Wonderfully soothing and low-key.

Sounds like documentaries in general could fit the bill.
posted by danceswithlight at 1:45 PM on December 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Youtube channels you can fall asleep to:

Forgotten Weapons -- Gun Jesus explains how particularly weird or innovative or French guns work inside. Actual how-things-work videos have just about zero gun-politics second-amendment-boner content; Q&A's have maybe a tiny smidgen

C&Rsenal -- Othais explains the mechanisms and developmental history of firearms used in WW1, then Mae demonstrates how they go bang, then Othais and Mae talk about it. It's sort of like Forgotten Weapons but with a big side-dose of bureaucratic history... **swoon** Othais has a very measured, calm voice. Also no I AM ERECT FOR THE 2D AMENDMENT stuff in the actual explanation videos, maybe a tiny smidgen in the very few Q&A.

Steve1989MRE -- Steve, who was presumably born in 1989, opens military rations and talks about what's in them and, if they're not too old and rotten, eats them and describes their good and bad facets. He legit has kind of a gift for talking about how food tastes and has a fairly discriminating palate that he uses on things coming out of retort pouches. He has a pattern to them. Okay, cool.

Out of the Woods -- A guy from the Tennessee mountains cuts up logs on his sawmill thing and says why he's cutting them up that way and shows us what the resulting lumber looks like. Dude has a magnificent accent; I could listen to him read a phone book.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:50 PM on December 15, 2021 [1 favorite]


Oh, yeah, this guy is perfect.

...has anything ever been too old and rotten for him?
posted by praemunire at 2:01 PM on December 15, 2021

Drachinifel is a British guy who really likes to talk about naval history. A lot of his content does cover military topics so that may be a no-go, but he's got the Very Dry British Narrator Voice in spades, and there's plenty of "how did supplies and logistics work in the Age of Sail" type content if you want to steer clear of actual descriptions of battles.
posted by Alterscape at 2:04 PM on December 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Painting restoration videos! Some people might find this boring, but I love this guy and it's so satisfying to watch. You can jump in and out very easily, and it's not flashy in the slightest.
posted by greta simone at 2:11 PM on December 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

Technology Connections has already been mentioned, so all is right with the world.

That said, I also want to mention Matt Colville's "One Fighter At A Time" videos. Matt Colville is a DnD YouTuber, and has plenty of videos on the subject, but the Fighter series has him creating a character ( a fighter ) in every edition of the game. He spends a lot of time talking about what kind of background Gary Gygax had, and why certain decisions were made, and how the game evolved. It's a few hours worth of nerd archeology. I've literally put them on for white noise in the past, and find them easy to tune in and out of. ... but I'm a lifelong DnD nerd, so your mileage may vary.
posted by Zudz at 2:17 PM on December 15, 2021

Jill Bearup talks a lot about fantasy, comics and action movies. She explains fight scenes really well. (See Pirates of the Caribbean and Princess Bride - but too good to fall asleep to.
Today I Found Out - great, but may be too interesting to tune out
The History Guy.
posted by Enid Lareg at 2:31 PM on December 15, 2021

yt channel recommendations:
Atlas Pro
Just Have A Think
(so many woodworking channels - but they have surprise tool noises that may not be good for zoning out - stumpy nubs almost never has tool noises and is more philosophical)
This Old Tony
Not Just Bikes
Every Frame A Painting (looks like the visuals are really important, but if you don't care about every detail, I can still follow and enjoy)
Technology Connections

The Life Scientific
In Our Time
posted by Acari at 2:43 PM on December 15, 2021

Teagasc Webinars - agribizzzzzz
Biochemistry Lectures - water, okay? dipole, okay?
Genetics ditto - set up the Punnett square and solve it
The Calculus - is simply the slope of the line
Would foreign language work? European Parliament sessions in Portuguese
posted by BobTheScientist at 2:55 PM on December 15, 2021

Vivian Tries is kind of amusing reviews about mostly boring products. It can be fun to watch in a low-key way but would be very easy to have on as background because the products all seem to be stuff you probably wouldn't buy except on impulse so you likely wouldn't get too wrapped up in the review unless you'd searched for it.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:58 PM on December 15, 2021

Educational higher-level math videos. Against my will I have been presented with many of them (my partner is a nerd of epic proportions) and I am just not that smart but I can kind of follow along what the point is if I can manage to care (I usually don't). You want the ones that are all vector animations, no people. They usually explain things in a pleasant, gently monotonous tone of voice, trusting students' desperate desire not to flunk Calc III again to do most of the engagement legwork.
posted by kkar at 3:05 PM on December 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Smokey Glow on YouTube has a series of "evolution of" videos about the content style of other YouTubers. Many of them I've never heard of and the ones I have I care about these people like 2%. She's very invested though, and can just sit and talk for like 40 straight minutes about this one topic. Just talking, nothing else to look at or care about. It's great background listening imo.
posted by phunniemee at 3:40 PM on December 15, 2021

How about typewriter cleaning/repair videos? I spent a few days down a rabbit hole once watching a bunch of repair videos. Phoenix Typewriter is the account I remember, but there were similar accounts out there.

Possibly The British History podcast? This is not quite as good of a fit as there's definitely a linear element to it (because, history) and also a bit of music for intros/transition. But I just checked and there are almost 400 episodes and it looks like the host is just approaching 1066. I don't know as much about this one personally as I only heard a few episodes in the car when my brother-in-law was into it, but maybe?
posted by verity kindle at 3:43 PM on December 15, 2021

Jeremy Parish does a weekly youtube video about post-Atari-crash video games. He tends to dive deep into history and I think it might tick your steady-voice-talks-about-stuff-in-detail box.

I personally fall asleep to Adrian's Digital Basement where host Adrian Black methodically talks through repairing some old piece of computer equipment. He sometimes plays music though, which can be a little jarring.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:39 PM on December 15, 2021

I like to watch the Baumgartner art restoration videos linked by someone above, so I can second that recommendation. Bernadette Banner might also fit this niche, as an expert in fashion styles throughout the years, how well movies and tv shows adhere to period fashions, etc. Not sure if these other two will hit it for you but throwing them out there: pal2tech for camera gear reviews and Rachael Stephen for videos about writing, creativity, witchy stuff, and bullet journaling.
posted by carlypennylane at 4:58 PM on December 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Dashner Design and Restorations. People say he's the Bob Ross of furniture refinishing and repair, but I think he's the Joe Pera. He's got some very very calm and predictable aesthetic preferences, a really relaxed pacing, and just a steady sense that all's right with the world. (Although I always have an ear perked to see if the glue syringe will come into play in any given episode.)
posted by fountainofdoubt at 6:48 PM on December 15, 2021 [4 favorites]

I'm a big fan of C-SPAN's Lectures in History podcast for this purpose. Totally unadorned recordings of college history professors doing their thing.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:54 PM on December 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Seconding Dashner Design and Restoration.

Super comforting to listen to, I would say there's even some similarity to ASMR from the sounds of working with wood. I also love how little ego is in his videos. You don't have to listen to his bad jokes (as with some other guys on YouTube) he just wants to show you how he restored the table. Highly recommend.
posted by switcheroo at 8:20 PM on December 15, 2021

The econtalk podcast. The host is trying hard to destroy the world, but he's smart and likable.

Also, and unambiguously good, Bob Pease.
posted by eotvos at 10:11 PM on December 15, 2021

Response by poster: wow, this is a lot of pointers to new things to look at, thank you so much everyone!
posted by aspo at 12:01 AM on December 16, 2021

There is a youtube channel called "Cruising the Cut" which is narrated by a former newscaster guy as he lives on and cruises a narrowboat on the canals of Great Britain. It's pretty soothing. 240-some episodes, and the guy's voice really puts me at ease. Lots of bad puns and English grumpiness played for (subdued) comic effect.
posted by niicholas at 4:04 AM on December 16, 2021 [4 favorites]

Bob Ross is of course the OG relaxation-taimnent.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:36 AM on December 16, 2021

Bob Ross?
posted by AJaffe at 10:37 AM on December 16, 2021

I came to recommend the general genre of narrowboat videos, including Cruising the Cut mentioned above. See also Minimal List, Holly the Cafe Boat, and that should seed your algorithm for more. I also watch a lot of vanlifers, see: Kinging It, The ExPAWers, Eamon and Bec (who switched to a cabin remodel for the pandemic, another good topic), Camping Car Joa EN (they also have a Korean channel, if you really want to not pay attention to the talking, assuming you don't speak Korean).

I do the background noise thing with gardening youtube, and longer cooking videos. On the Delish channel, look for any of the "budget" videos June does, which tend to run about an hour as she makes a week's worth of meals on some kind of budget or other limitation. Other favorite background videos are soap- and candle-making, resin videos, and camping gear reviews.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:01 PM on December 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Tom Woodford's guitar repair videos might be too exciting if you're interested in instruments or woodworking but he's got a soft Hamilton Ontario accent and a soothing Boss Ross type of demeanour.
posted by brachiopod at 4:40 PM on December 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Here are my recommendations (of those I haven't seen mentioned already, at least); most of these I could fall asleep to if I wanted and are typically good background noise, though I generally enjoy the content enough to be engaged on first watch, typically. Your ability to let your attention fade in and out is very much a YMMV thing tho; my typical pattern is to save the background noise treatment for rewatches.

Has very little music/SFX:
  • Noah Caldwall-Gervais - longform video essays on video games, travelogues
  • frank howarth - woodworking
Has music/SFX that is usually not too distracting:
  • Gaming Historian (might be hit or miss, often has video game audio) - documentary-style videos
  • RMC - The Cave - retro-computer repair & restoration
  • Practical Engineering - explainers
  • LGR (might be hit or miss, often has video game audio, his hardware videos are usually fine tho) - general retrocomputing and retrogaming topics
  • TheCrafsMan SteadyCraftin - toy and 3d object crafting
  • tim hunkin - documentary-style videos about machines, explainers
  • Journey to the Microcosmos - documentary-style videos about microbes
  • 3Blue1Brown - mathematics explainers

posted by Aleyn at 6:25 PM on December 16, 2021

My go-to background noise is YouTube videos where a text-to-speech bot with a weird robotoic vaguely British accent reads high-rated comments scraped from Reddit threads. Usually there's a question like "Have you ever quit your job in a blaze of glory?" or "Have you ever attended a wedding where something went wrong?" and lots of comments.

The videos range between 15-30 minutes mostly, and there's something I find soothing because I can out it on and do something else for a little while, lulled by somethng that is kind of like storytelling, but not compelling enough to distract me. I avoid the ones where an actual human reads them, because they try to emote and do silly voices and offer commentary, which is contrary to my purposes, I just want the TTS Bot. The videos also function a little like a Pomodoro timer; if I start a task and a video at the same time, by the time the video ends I'm 20-30 minutes in and I can give myself mental permission to move on to something else.

For example, I was listening to “You Have No Power Here” Moments | People Stories #954 earlier today. There's a few YT channels that have these, they probably all steal from each other but I don't care.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 6:40 PM on December 16, 2021

Two recommendations, one more low brow, one a bit high brow.

Report of the Week. Self-described as "Shortwave radio enthusiast and broadcaster who critiques comestibles, beverages and beyond, with intermittent postings of random videos and talk shows on a variety of topics. " The ones I've watched have all been devoted to various fast food sandwiches.

Philosophy Vibe. This channel will ponder some of the most fundamental arguments, inspiring theories and influential philosophers; all explained through animated debates. Through the course of our videos we will explore topics such as the existence of God, what is morality, what is reality, what is the mind… and much much more. Perfect for those studying Philosophy academically (college/university level).
posted by BeBoth at 12:20 PM on December 17, 2021

Stuff you should know is a podcast of two calm fellows talking about ALL SORTS of random slightly interesting things. Wide variety of topics, very prolific (>100 so far i think?). Kidney stones, palm trees, "Why lefties exist"...

I suggest it bc I know from my own experience of listening over Mr Contour's shoulder for YEARS that I can dip in and out and otherwise ignore it pretty well.

(Mr Contour mentions that it does have adds, which I seem to think are pretty benign, and Im VERY sensitive to adds, cant stand them!)
posted by Illusory contour at 12:55 PM on December 17, 2021

Jake Kaminski would like to teach you about archery.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:44 PM on December 18, 2021

Okay this question has been living rent free in my head since you posted it, and I would like to suggest quilting videos! They are usually super chill, have pretty fabrics to look at, and especially if you aren’t in to quilting, boring as heck.

I would say Jordan Fabrics is a great place to start.

Another idea is Skillshare. It’s a platform for video tutorials and truly has everything from crafts to business stuff. Some of the presenters are very um…calmz
posted by itsamermaid at 7:21 AM on January 2, 2022

the category i have found that really fills this niche for me is rewatch podcasts for shows that i have not watched in a long time or maybe have never watched.

there is something about someone describing the tv show they watched in detail that just kind of fades into the background.
posted by mumblelard at 4:44 AM on January 7, 2022

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