This Week in Comedy Podcasts
This very column started nine months ago with these immortal words by Mr. Joe Berkowitz: “Every week, it seems, the known galaxy of headphone-hilarity expands further, taking up even more storage space on iPhones the world over. In fact, it’s entirely possible that while you were reading that last sentence, Dana Gould conceived of and began recording a show of his own.” The timeline was a bit off but like a human baby, nine months later, Dana Gould has started a podcast. Was Joe the butterfly wing flap whose winds set in motion what became The Dana Gould Show? Maybe! It can be argued (and it will be, by me in the rest of this paragraph) that columns like this both propagate the medium and also highlight the fact that there is always more room for top level content. We wish Dana the best of luck; we surely expect him to be featured in this column one week but, as can be routinely scene below, he’ll have some stiff competition.
BRADFORD: Who Charted? # 62 – Jake Fogelnest
Who Charted? is a podcast that lives and dies by its guests, and that’s why it was a pleasant surprise to see Jake Fogelnest pop up on the show this week. Fogelnest is an interesting guy who has plenty of unique experiences to draw from and is adept at discussing pop culture. He brings a lot to the table, and hosts Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack are also in fine form, as always. There are plenty of great moments throughout the episode, but Fogelnest’s story about being attacked on the street and thrown into a trashcan by a drunken Liam Gallagher is not to be missed. Since he’s an East Coast dweller, it’s rare to see Jake Fogelnest pop up on the L.A. comedy podcast circuit. His presence here adds a little variety to the comedy podcasting community, which some say has grown incestuous in terms of guest choice lately. Of course, I have to mention that this Fogelnest episode comes at the start of a historic week for Who Charted? because the show will begin broadcasting two episodes a week starting this Friday!
JESSE: A Bit of Chat with Ken Plume – Gillian Jacobs
It’s all there in the title. The show is not a discussion, debate, investigation, profile, or interviews—it’s a chat. A lot of a chat? Nope, just a bit. Ken Plume if he is anything, is unassuming. Always over-prepared and friendly, Plume creates an ideal environment for his guest to endear herself or himself to the listener. Still, it comes down to how charming the guest is able to be. To everyone’s benefit, Community’s Gillian Jacobs brought it. Throughout the interview, the suprisingly self-effacing Jacobs is genuine and consitently open with her fears/flaw/insecurities (and not in the actressy, “Sigh. Please pay attention to me and pity my pain” way.) The interview begins with a conversation about a super-cutted YouTube video made of clips of just Jacobs smoking cigarettes, which translates into a winking discussion of the edginess of her pre-Community roles. Plume is able to ask her about appearing nude and playing a prostitute without directly asking—as would be expected from a chat. The two continue with discussions of Jacobs theater/Julliard past and all things Chevy Chase. The Community cast seemingly has a lifetime supply of Chevy stories to sustain them for every podcast appearance ever. The show is like listening to the conversation at the adjacent two-top at a local mid-brow restaurant. With its great episodes, you want to butt in and join in with the neighboring couple’s conversation. I’d ask if she enjoyed the soup or The Soup.
JOEL: The Todd Glass Show #30 – Paul F. Tompkins, Daniel Kinno
The Todd Glass Show keeps rolling along in the blissful comedic weeds – part radio show send-up and part comedy deconstruction crash course. The adding of podcaster extraordinaire Paul F. Tompkins to the fray brings both an expected dose of silliness, as well as a surprising bit of tension. Both Tompkins and Glass are two of the best at switching gears mid-bit. Absurd tangents to honest-to-god adult conversations. It’s all here. Listening to them prod one another along the way is great fun, too. Glass continues his obsession with throwing to fake breaks and over-examining jingles. There’s also actual stories shared, a few cop-related, and an insane visit with the “juice guy” from Glass’ gym (aka “the extremely foreign guy”) – a roided-out Tompkins’ character for sure. The show is at its meta best with the frenetic jumping in and out of bits. Tompkins ends up taking over the show for a hot minute while Glass combusts. The always-paying-attention sidekick, Daniel Kinno, skillfully pops in from time to time, as both the show’s fake irritant and wise observer. Glass, Tompkins and Kinno layer on a bit of substance towards the end with some earnest dialogue on comedic boundaries and the travails of political correctness. The 90-plus minutes of delirious randomness ends up creating another stellar comedic gem.
MARC: The Nerdist #164 – Fred Stoller
The controversy started a couple of weeks ago on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, when guest Fred Stoller took Chris Hardwick and The Nerdist to task for what he saw as a misappropriation of the term “nerd.” Stoller considers the word a label for those geeky, misunderstood loners who sometimes don’t even manage to get beat up in school because they’re beneath even the bully’s notice — namely, himself. Hardwick and his ilk, in Stoller’s estimation, have come to use it to describe hipsters who display an overt fondness for comic books and robots. Hardwick, called out, picked up the multi-tweeted gauntlet and invited Stoller on his show to clear the air. Hardwick does a good job of letting his listeners discover who Fred Stoller is (standup comedian, character actor, voiceover artist, writer on Seinfeld for a torturous year…), while also flipping back into the discussion of what a nerd is these days. Nerdist sidekick Matt Mira (who plays a role in stirring Stoller’s nerdish ire) tries to soft pedal his part in the brouhaha, but it’s there for those with the ears to hear it. For an invisible nerd, Stoller’s had a pretty colorful career and shares some fun stories from behind the scenes of TV shows and movies that are even more obscure than him (Kiss My Act starring Camryn Mannheim, anyone?). By the show’s end, the hatchet’s been buried and one gets the feeling, with Stoller popping up on some high profile podcasts of late, can his own be far behind?
ROGER: WTF with Marc Maron # 251 – Matt Graham
Usually if an established comedian is the guest on WTF you’re not going to hear any excruciatingly honest anecdotes. If someone is able to sell out comedy clubs they’re not going to feel the need to talk about the time they seriously considered fornicating with a goat or kitchen utensil. But when the guest is someone that is unfamiliar to most people outside of the comedy world, odds are masturbation techniques or a recounting of a suicide attempt will be discussed. Enter Matt Graham: despite writing briefly on SNL and Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Graham never was able to fully make a living doing stand-up or writing for a show, being instead best known for at one time being one of the top Scrabble players in the world and co-starring in a documentary about the game that came out eight years ago. An intelligent Graham blamed his alcoholism and laziness in addition to bad luck for never “making it” (it probably didn’t help when he once inadvertently elbowed Conan in the face while playing basketball). Maron in one 50 minute interview with Graham asked him if he had ever tried killing himself, to which the response was no. A little over a month later Maron interviewed Graham again, this time getting him to reveal that he in fact had. The two are friends, but clearly Matt Graham had thought about how host and guest were using each other and was uncomfortable with it, calling Maron a “sensationalist” and himself a “whore” before calling himself a loser for the fourth or fifth time on the podcast. The accusation towards Maron reminded podcast listeners of David Cross’ “Marc Maron used his friends to get famous” zinger on Doug Loves Movies a few weeks ago, but it can easily be argued that in this case Maron was simply being a good journalist and raising his friend’s profile. Or he’s a selfish bastard. Either way, it made for entertaining listening, which is kind of the point.
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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.