The other day during corporate 'sensitivity' training, I received a WhatsApp message from a friend with a link to Dear Joan and Jericha. It read: "If you haven’t listened to this you are going to die. Hysterical."
She wasn’t wrong. During the first episode I laughed so hard I thought I was close to a coronary. This audio experience is not advised if you are operating heavy machinery, chopping veg or on public transport. Or indeed in a 'sensitivity' meeting…especially if you are partaking of a hot beverage.
Dear Joan and Jericha is a truly outrageous podcast which sees queen of darkness Julia Davis (Nighty Night, Camping) and the equally inspired Vicki Pepperdine (Getting On) play two middle-aged, gloriously self-obsessed, essentially wicked agony aunts. In an eight-part extravaganza of collaborative comedic brilliance, Davis and Pepperdine tackle their listeners’ letters with utter disdain for the women who have written them, a brutal dissection of their physical features and unanimous support for their male partner, however appalling his behaviour. The advice they offer is never helpful, and offers a searingly sardonic takedown of the patronising 'tips and tricks' offered by women's magazines and experts to 'women of a certain age'.
In the first episode we meet Cecilia from Truro, who is struggling with the concept of role-play. Praising husband Norman, J&J quickly move to scrutinise Cecilia’s photograph. They find she has an unfortunate 'nutty, gaunty' look and should get her nose checked out for 'aesthetic and medical conditions'. Each episode covers three or so letters and it is well and truly no-holds-barred, the dialogue fast descending into graphic sexual commentary with Davis and Pepperdine vying to outdo each other through the absurd and explicit.
There’s the 64-year-old who will need to "shut down that gag reflex", "turn her mouth into a busy vagina" and train her "grey…pointy…parrot's tongue’" to efficiently deep-throat the half-alert phallus of her nonagenarian suitor, and the wife whose husband ejaculates on her clothing and into her colleagues' pockets during a dinner party. The conclusion: "I think she needs to look at what she’s feeding him."
Another highlight is Joan’s response to a young woman who is devastated to discover that her fiancé attends an adult baby group: "It’s not all innocence and baby milk is it? You can see he’s got a very big erection in that nappy."
You see, Joan and Jericha are hugely broadminded. As the podcast intro says, they are "everywomen … who have between them worked in the fields of life coaching, female sexual health, psycho-genital counselling and sports journalism". Leaning on this extensive shared CV, they are in an expert position to impart both sexual guidance and scientific knowledge. Not only are we delighted by the hypothetical erotica of one "lucky" listener’s 17-year-old godson, complete with delicious "pubic ebullience" "releasing inside her" during a sailing trip on the Norfolk Broads, but we also get to learn about some little-known medical phenomena.
You sense the comedians are seriously close to losing their poise as they push each other into the realms of deviant lunacy to see who will break first
Jericha, battling bravely through "eyebrow corrosion" caused by "facial bashing" during oral pleasuring, leads the charge here, sagely explaining the existence of "kindercysts": "tiny troll-like creatures" who have lived for centuries inside human growths. There are also "ancient babies" (oft born to geriatric mothers – beware if you are over 35) and "verpunal pockets" where a fat man’s flesh grows over, sealing in his penis. It is all UTTERLY ridiculous and you sense that these comedians are seriously close to losing their poise as they push each other into the realms of deviant lunacy to see who will break first. For those of us who enjoy competitive debauchery, hearing Davis and Pepperdine stifle hysteria while describing a "dimple pocketing scrotal sack" is really half the magic.
The other half is the truly brilliant characterisation. As one Twitter user puts it: "New favourite podcast: 'Dear Joan and Jericha' with queen Julia Davis and the brilliant @vickipepperdine playing perverted, malevolent radio agony aunts. I’m three eps in and it is hilarious FILTH."
Despite having little press at launch, Dear Joan and Jericha is spreading like word of mouth wildfire. Myself, I can’t stop sending it to people; I’m almost using it as a marker of future compatibility… Oh, not for you? No bother, let’s catch up in 2024.
Dear Joan and Jericha, please write a second series.