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Thursday, August 11th, 2011

This Week in Comedy Podcasts

Comedy podcasts, you guys! They’re funny, they’re free; distract you from existential angst, give you something to talk about when you inevitably run out of things to say. But which comedy podcasts will you listen to this week? All of them? No way — this is not Kindergarten and you don’t have to invite every single kid in class to your birthday party. (We all had to do that, right?) Thankfully we’ve done lots of field work, scouring through most of the crop for you, selecting only the juiciest offerings for you to put in your ears. These are the best comedy podcasts of the week:

Top 5 Comedy Podcasts This Week (In Alphabetical Order)

Doug Loves Movies — Aziz Ansari, Ruben Fleischer, Rob Huebel, and Paul Scheer

It was supposed to be a special 30 Minutes or Less episode but much of the cast couldn’t make it. Instead, the episode became a long awaited Human Giant reunion. Ok, well not really that long awaited; Aziz quickly points out that he hadn’t seen the guys for just two weeks. Unlike actual reunions, no time is spent talking about the show as this podcast still isn’t titled “Doug Loves Human Giant.” Instead, they discuss fancy schmancy LA things like living in the Silverlake-adjacent Los Feliz neighborhood, Entourage, and film terms like “pre-pro.” More time is spent listing the prizes for the Leonard Maltin game than actually playing it. Paul Scheer dominates like few people ever have, getting both of his points on negative bids. It went unspoken but on that night a movie podcast rivalry was born. Scheer drew first blood on Doug, now we must wait to see if Doug will return the favor with a stellar appearance on How Did This Get Made. Also, there was a baby in the audience, so that was fun.

Earwolf Presents —Analyze Phish with Harris Wittels

Harris Wittels, Parks & Recreation writer and frequent Comedy Bang Bang guest, is a comedian with buzz. He will likely write your favorite movie one day but until then he likes to go on a lot of podcasts. And on these podcasts the hosts usually point out one thing about Harris — he loves Phish. It’s hard to reconcile anyone with liking that band but especially someone who has written for the Sarah Silverman Program. So in the first edition of Earwolf Presents, they got Harris to come in and make an argument to Scott Aukerman about why he too should love Trey and the gang. The premise of Earwolf Presents is to get comedians whose schedule would not permit them to commit to a full show every week to do one special single episode. Harris takes his mission of trying to convince Scott very seriously and Scott takes his mission of making fun of Harris equally so. They both obviously have a great time and so would any listener. Unless you really despise hearing clips of funky jams and masturbatory guitar noodling, then it’s definitely worth a listen.

How Did This Get Made # 16 — Paul F. Tompkins

Since every year brings with it a fresh onslaught of terrible movies, Paul Scheer & company’s bad movie post-mortem podcast sometimes wavers between “classics” (like the E.T. ripoff, Mac & Me) and more current fare (like The Green Lantern). This week, however, marks what I believe is the first instance of an episode released the same week the movie came out — while everybody in the country is still freshly bad-mouthing it. The Smurfs movie is an easy target, to be sure. If you have a twitter account, you probably made fun of it at least once on it. Yet Jason Mantzoukis and June Diane Raphael find interesting angles to come at what is terrible about this thing. Always-entertaining guest Paul F. Tompkins even manages to get in a great social critique: he sees the other smurfs’ derision of Brainy as an example of entertainment promoting American anti-intellectualism. Everyone also has genuine praise for Hank Azaria, who makes the most of the unfortunate task of playing Gargamel in the movie, which goes to show that How Did This Get Made actually does look for the silver lining, rather than just ripping on shitty flicks.

The Nerdist # 111

For a two-hour episode, this week’s Comic Con-set Nerdist is fairly breezy and consistently entertaining. Even though it was recorded late in the day in front of (and by) a bunch of exhausted Con-goers, there’s a good energy in the air, perhaps owing to the sequencing of the guests. The very amped up Kevin Pereira from G4’s Attack of the Show comes out first, firing off dirty jokes wherever applicable (and, well, wherever inapplicable too.) Next “World Champion” Judah Friedlander drops by to discuss his career and what it’s like to do 15 shows a week in New York City. Surprise guest Doug Benson shows up after Judah leaves, and his laconic vibe works as a nice contrast to the excitable Pereira and Team Nerdist. At about the one-hour mark, though, the meat of the meal is served when Rifftrax (a/k/a the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 guys) come on stage. Here is where this podcast shines: Chris Hardwick, Jonah Ray, and Matt Mira nerding out over revered comedy icons, those icons telling insider stories about how the iconic sausage was made (so to speak), and everybody freestyling jokes the whole time.

Ronna & Beverly #6 — Jen Kirkman

On a scale of 1 to chowdah, how much do you like Boston? Because this episode is chowdah. With Jamie Denbo and Jessica Chaffin playing the very Boston Jewish Ronna & Beverly and Jen being raised as a Boston Catholic, this podcast quickly becomes a the aural equivalent of getting a lobster roll down at Kelly’s. Jen has proven time and time AND TIME again that she is a delightful podcast guest and this has prepared her for the typical R&B question onslaught, like “You’re a comedian but you’re also very pretty, why?” or “Have you ever dated Don Cheadle?” Like the all their guests so far, Jen is obviously having a blast, egging on the characters. There is a hilarious pregnant pause when she points out that half her family is German. By the end the girls just talk about their favorite parts of the Boston metropolitan area (i.e. Dunkin’ Donuts) and for a moment all was right in the world. Only six episodes in and Ronna & Beverly has join the very shortlist of podcasts that are essential listens every episode.

Honorable Mentions

This American Wife #35 — Alison Agosti, Hilary Winston

About 15 minutes into this wonderful episode, comedy writer/Twitter-star Alison Agosti is telling a story about her anxiety before having to perform in front of an audience, there is a soft picking of minimalist guitar phrases playing underneath, and for that moment it was hard to remember that this wasn’t actually This American Life. Sure, there is some breaking of character during the interviews, but at its best This American Wife doesn’t feel like a cheap spoof. In a way, it is like Community — whose former writer, Hilary Winston, is interviewed this episode as well — in that they are very careful to work within the universe from where they’re drawing their comedy.

You Had to Be There #28 — Wyatt Cenac and TJ Miller

Alluded to in a previous episode, this week Nikki Glaser reveals the story behind her getting arrested last month. It turns out she was… smoking pot outside of a comedy club, if you can even believe that. Opening guest Wyatt Cenac details his own confrontations with the law, only one of which involves his work with The Daily Show. In kind of a bummer of an interview, Cenac also talks about how deep into debt he was before he got his current gig, but it’s a tale well-told and it has a happy ending, of course. Second guest TJ Miller is always fun to listen to. Here he talks about recording parodic songs for his comedy album, and what it takes to be an awesome daytime talk show guest (wait until the cameras are rolling and start making fun of the stage and the set.)

The Indoor Kids #5 — Jordan Morris

If you listen to Jordan Jesse Go! at all, or watch Jordan Morris on Fuel TV, then you know how deep the guy’s appreciation for and expertise at gaming goes. Considering as much, it was perhaps inevitable that he would end up on Kumail Nanjiani and Ali Baker’s video game podcast, The Indoor Kids. This short-awaited, but awaited-nonetheless, meeting of the minds does not disappoint, proving once again that it is awesome to see funny people get excited about the things they’re passionate about.

Jesse Fox is a freelance writer, podcaster, cat person, and Jew (in that order). He lives in Brooklyn. His iPod is broken.

Joe Berkowitz edits books and writes stuff. He also has a Tumblr.

  • Marc Brandl@twitter

    Thanks for the recommendations – I am definitely checking out This American Wife for the title is nothing else.

    Y'all may have missed an england based comedy podcast 'Frank Skinner on Absolute' I find it consistently hilarious…