This Week in Comedy Podcasts
Did you hear, did you hear? The Oscar nominations came out this week and woof. You call these movies, Hollywood? More like move-these pieces of ssshhhhh out of my face. War Horse!? More like bore horse or snore horse or I roar (booooo) horse. Anyway, podcasts. Podcasts are good nay great. It can be argued (and is currently being argued by me right now with these words) that movies have grown worse because the talent that might have once made cinema is now spread out amongst other media like television and podcasts. Call me crazy but The Help is really only one or two Scott Aukerman punch-ups away from not being abhorrent. But who cares? Not me. Who needs to see things happen when you can hear things happen? Also, not me. The Artist tries to tell a story with only the use of visuals with any verbal dialogue, which is something, but I’d prefer it reversed — tell me that story with only the dialogue, screw the eyebrow raises and canine reaction shots. Hopefully, the Thrilling Adventure Hour folks will give it a try and they’ll win an Oscar — an Oscar from my heart.
BRADFORD: improv4humans #10 – Andrew Daly, Horatio Sanz, Joe Wengert
One can expect amazing improv scenes from Matt Besser’s podcast improv4humans, but the conversation between the scenes has become a memorable part of the show too. Horatio Sanz’s story about a stage manager poisoning a Second City performer, the gang riffing on Mitt Romney’s inhumane animal transportation habits, and Matt Besser reading an absurd letter written by his recently-deceased father, a hilarious and heartfelt regular feature, are episode highlights that are up to par with the best moments of these seasoned performers’ improv scenes. Besser has a particularly impressive and well-balanced team of improvisers this time around, with Joe Wengert, Andrew Daly, and Horatio Sanz joining him in the studio. This quartet of comedians really gels together nicely, working their way through a series of scenes that all manage to land. With so many comedy podcasts consisting of comedians discussing comedy, it’s refreshing to hear one in which comedy is actually being performed hit its stride.
JESSE: Doug Loves Movies – T.J. Miller, Pete Holmes, Ti West
Poor Ti West. All he wanted to do was promote his little horror film. “Go on Doug Loves Movies, it’s a Podcast that will help you reach the necessary nerd demo. It will be a piece of pie,” West publicist probably said the day before the taping. She was then probably fired the day after. He does get to plug his movie some and he wins the Leonard Maltin game but mostly he’s squeezed out by DLM’s two most legendary attention-sucks. Miller and Holmes rushed to be the first to shout out a “sidebar” punchline like Brad Pitt’s two attention-craving sons in Tree of Life (more like Pee of Life ). Luckily, Miller and Holmes are hilarious together. Holmes ended up winning the shouting match on the back of his over-the-top impression of the over-the-top Miller, which it involves little more than shouting, “Denver! Yogi Bear! 3-D!” It caused Miller to point out that what he is to Doug, Pete is to him—terrifying but apt.
JOEL: The Todd Glass Show #28 – Sarah Silverman, Anthony Jeselnik, Jonah Ray
Todd Glass is settling into his podcasting position quite nicely. The unlikely combo of confidence and unease is on full display again. The latest episode of The Todd Glass Show starts out with a lengthy epilogue to his stellar WTF With Marc Maron appearance. Buddy Sarah Silverman joins him for a recap of the days following his public coming out. Glass continues to amaze with his honest and fun take on it all. Silverman is settling into her comedy elder position with a welcoming grace. She’s a new kind of veteran to the scene, bringing heart and warmth to her discussions. Glass doubles down with a regular edition of his show, featuring studio appearances by Anthony Jeselnik and Jonah Ray. The usual Todd Glass Show format is on full display – it’s morning radio deconstruction on the fly. Glass and friends pretty much dole out nonstop riffing to listeners. Every conversational turn is a chance for comedic self-examination and excoriation. The repeated faking of coming in and out of radio breaks is pure joy. There are fake callers, what ifs and role-playing aplenty. Jeselnik plays a great dickish foil to the eager Glass. Jonah Ray shows off his versatility, playfully switching between eager go-along and reluctant guest. The show overflows with comedy gems in both the moment and from larger isn’t-this-silly perspective. The whole show is in the weeds and that’s the fun of it. When it’s hitting its stride, the show’s battle with its own format and sincerity make it a truly heady and fun listen each time out.
MARC: The Thrilling Adventure Hour #55: Captain Laserbeam – “Even Bluebirds Get The Blues”
While I have yet to catch a live, monthly, in-the-flesh staging of The Thrilling Adventure Hour in Los Angeles, there’s something captivating about how Ben Acker and Ben Blacker have re-created the essence of old-time radio performance, complete with sound effects and a live orchestra. And, although it was initially conceived for the stage alone, it’s production-as-podcast (part of the Nerdist network of shows) fits letter-perfect. (My attraction to the formula dates back to my junior high days – or rather nights – when I would listen to a local radio station re-play old radio shows like The Shadow, X Minus One, and Fibber McGee & Molly…) In this exciting episode of Captain Laserbeam, John DiMaggio fills the title role, a superhero dedicated to protecting Apex City. While bombastically blustering in the style of TV Batman’s Adam West, his addled sidekicks, the Adventurekateers are distractingly funny. And his duo of foes, voiced by Kirsten Vangsness and Carlos Alazraqui, amply fill out this carnival of camp. The dialog is at a rat-a-tat funny pace, moving so quickly that even the flubs get laughs from the live audience. It’s over so fast you’ll wonder where the hour went…until you look and see the episode is only about 20 minutes long. Oh, well. It will just get you back online that much faster, downloading more.
ROGER: You Made It Weird #16 – T. J. Miller # 2
After Dane Cook claimed on Joe Rogan’s Ice House Chronicles podcast that T. J. Miller broke “the comic code” when tweeting last week that Cook embarrassed himself on stage, Miller guested on a fifty minute “bonus” episode of You Made It Weird to defend himself. The comedian/actor who was in that Yogi Bear movie explained that contrary to what fans of Dane Cook wrote on Twitter, he actually isn’t a proponent of that annoying First Amendment. Miller’s issue was that the star of Good Luck Chuck insulted an audience that didn’t come to see him and had left the comedians, including himself, that followed his hour and fifteen minute long set to “deal with it.” Towards the end of the discussion with host Pete Holmes, Miller admitted to being more angry than he should have been before showing that he wasn’t remorseful for his “snitching” when he asked the rhetorical question: “Why does he get to go up and make those people feel terrible, then go home and get an impeccable blowjob, have breakfast for dinner and go to his spa?” Holmes and Miller are good friends, but the host never openly took a side in the debate, saving himself thousands of angry tweets telling him to put objects where they don’t naturally belong, and earning himself and his show some credibility in the process.
Get Up On This #26 – Hannah Hart
How Was Your Week #46 – Chris Gethard, Katie Notopoulos
Sklarboro Country #78 – Rob Riggle
This My Show #30 – Cole Stratton
Jesse David Fox is a freelance writer, cat person, and Jew (in that order). He lives in Brooklyn. His iPod is broken.
Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.