This Week in Comedy Podcasts
“Backstreet’s back, alright!” And by that I mean me, I’m back, alright. I’m sorry I missed last week’s column but I was on the frontlines of South by Southwest covering the war on people not listening to podcasts. This year there were so many live podcasts at SXSW – Comedy Bang! Bang!, Doug Loves Movies, Risk, Who Charted?, Kevin Pollack Chat Show, etc. x1000 – that locals started referring to the festival as Pod by Podcast (which, come to think of it, didn’t and still doesn’t make any sense). Nonetheless, I had to leave Austin (more like South BYE Southwest, amirite? yesiam – oknoiamnot) to report back on all the chuckles chucked at our favorite podcast hosts. My report: Everyone was great and funny and funnily great and greatly funny. In time, everything will be available to download and you’ll be able to recreate your own Pod by Podcast. Speaking of podcasts, here are our picks for the week:
JAY: The Duncan Trussell Family Hour #8 – Pete Holmes
Duncan Trussell is a force of nature. Duncan’s brand of psychedelic positivity is an eclectic fusion of intelligence, humor, and honesty. The Duncan Trussell Family Hour is the phoenix that rose from the ashes of his former podcast, The Lavender Hour and is a safe space where fellow cosmic voyagers can attempt to make sense of this savage world. In this week’s episode, comedian, voice of the E-Trade baby, and host of the You Made It Weird podcast, Pete Holmes joins Duncan for a trip inside the human mind. The podcast begins with a discussion of the real vampires who surround us in our daily lives. Then try not to have your mind blown by Duncan’s interpretation of Gnostic Christianity. Pete brings up a recent lucid dreaming experience and explains to recreate that state of consciousness. This leads into a conversation about daily affirmations. The pair agrees that whether your guru is Tony Robbins or Ram Dass, underneath everything, the universe runs on love and we are all just looking for truth. Enlightenment is what happens when we find the truth. The podcast concludes with an explanation of organized religion’s potential. The Duncan Trussell Family Hour is a weekly search for truth and reminder of what your body knows, but your mind forgot.
TSMINW is not an everyday podcast. One needs to be in the right headspace with both their smarty pants and thinking cap on because Greg Proops is going to talk about a lot of things of varying brow and isn’t go to hold any hands along the way. This episode, like everyone, meanders more than an episode of Avatar: The Last Air-Meanderer, but the primary focus is rock n’ roll never-was Ronnie Montrose, delicious Nova Scotian crustaceans, and a letter Aldous Huxley wrote to George Orwell. Montrose had recently died when the podcast was recorded so Proops told a few teenage Bay Area concert stories that involved him. Mostly Proops focused on going to see awful bands in the 70s surrounded by the dumb bros of Daly City. The centerpiece of the episode, however, was that ridiculous, ridiculous letter from one famous dystopian futurists to another. The crux of which was that Huxley thought 1984 was good but so much worse than his book Brave New World. The letter’s pithy, pretentious, passive-aggression fits Proops like some fancy glove (that probably went to Yale). Just when the high-mindedness is about to bubble over, Proops goes into explaining the silly Australian stage antics of 1970s AC/DC. There hasn’t been a mix of high and low art like this since Snooki pooped on the Venus de Milo (This didn’t happen, I’m not reporting some disgusting breaking news – don’t phone your local art historian) or, well, the last episode of TSMINW.
JOEL: Pop My Culture #72 – Judy Greer
Judy Greer is an entertainment gem, always a treat no matter the movie, show or interview. Her recent visit with Pop My Culture’s Cole Stratton and Vanessa Ragland is another head first jump into the silly pool. It’s such an easy fit, Greer feels like she could be the unofficial third host. The three roll through a ton of topics and even manage to mix in some a little honest-to-god thoughtful Greer career revelations. Some of the choice topics include the glory of a Zombie Whitney Houston video, tornado turtles, CMT reality shows, academic Taco Bell talk and whole lot more. It’s a treat to see both the contemplative and go-with-it shades of Greer. There’s quality revelations on Greer’s latest film, Jeff Who Lives At Home, including some serious Susan-Surandon-is-awesome talk. A particularly crazy segment is when the trio list numerous types of “Judy” – a truly oddball brainstorming session. Plus, Greer explains the mechanics of Madonna parties. Stratton’s a smart and thoughtful host, keeping things moving and sneaking in a few oddball revelations to match Ragland’s charming kookiness. Ragland punctuates like no other in podcasting. Both Stratton and Ragland embrace the joy of tangents. Having Greer in town just ads to the fun.
LINDSEY: My Brother, My Brother and Me #96
I haven’t written about MBMBAM yet, and that is a shame. It is consistently one of my favorite shows, and definitely the one where I make the biggest fool of myself while listening to it in public. The brothers start off slow this week due to taping the day after St. Patrick’s day, but have no fear because homeless Danny Trejo is around to drag Justin, Travis and Griffin through the sand to make sure the funny happens. (Unless you throw up on him. If you throw up on him he is leaving you there.) The highlight of the episode is an eight minute riff about getting married outdoors, where the suggestion of a McDonald’s PlayPlace leads to a realization that a true friend will always have a McGriddle in hand to help you out, and that the McRib is basically your estranged uncle who shows up every once in a while to declare that he is clean and sober and willing to stick around. (For three weeks total.) Standard goof, really. This bit also figures out the best way for you to finally sit down and have a drink with your favorite tv personality ever, Mr. Chris Hansen. It’s practically perfect and I’m surprised I hadn’t thought of it sooner. An episode for the grandpa babies, forever babies and Doritio babies of our lives. I love the brothers McElroy, and I love this podcast. Four more until 100. You did it!
As both a former comedy show booker and a comedy club manager, there’s nothing that I like better than comedians’ war stories — those shows that are legend, not for having killed but for having survived to tell the tales. Fitzsimmons hits a doubleheader in that regard with this installment, because along for the ride is show producer Mike Gibbons as his guest, who “popped his standup cherry” (as Fitz puts it) and did his first club set on St. Paddy’s Day night as part of the lineup at Hollywood famous Improv — in a show that Fitzsimmons was hosting. Not only did drunken heckler stories abound (including one about Fitz’s own artificially enebriated stooge in the crowd) but there was that infamous bane of the comedy room present as well: A bachelorette party. (If you’ve EVER seen one of these wandering bands of drunken celebrants at a show, you already know what Fitz, Gibbons, and the others on the bill that night were in for…) I found the interplay between the wily veteran and the plucky newcomer as they traded their perspectives on the madness that transpired to be both interesting and entertaining. And it was also a refreshing break to go a little deeper “inside baseball” for an episode. Fitzsimmons is great with his show guests, be they comedians, celebrities or both, but his take on real life personal stories are among the best in comedy podcasting today.
ROGER: Walking The Room #95 – Dana Gould
Dana Gould is a justifiably highly respected comedian, but if it wasn’t for one Canadian he would have been astronomically famous. When someone wants to illustrate how arbitrary and mysterious Lorne Michaels is in how he chooses SNL cast members, they’ll inevitably mention the anecdote told by Chris Rock on WTF with Marc Maron a few months ago: Dana Gould absolutely destroyed when performing stand-up for his audition for SNL. Chris Rock and Adam Sandler, who had also showcased their skills for Michaels that night in Chicago, knew that Gould blew them both out of the water. Despite this, Rock and Sandler are the ones that are multi-billionaires, while Gould was left to admit on this week’s Walking The Room podcast to admit that the story was true. The entire podcast, hosted by Dave Anthony and Greg Behrendt, centers around Gould, who over the past month and a half has been fortunately gracing his presence all over the podcast universe, appearing as a guest on several and hosting his own funny, bimonthly podcast, The Dana Gould Hour. Because Walking The Room is strictly a “let’s talk about whatever comes up” type of podcast that doesn’t bother with the pesky pretense of a “format”, Gould was allowed to tell a ton of fascinating comedy show biz stories, most notably his experience of being amongst his then fellow Simpsons writers on 9/11.
SAMANTHA: You Made It Weird #33 – Judd Apatow, Todd Barry, Chris Gethard, Kumail Nanjiani (and, briefly, Doug Benson)
Fans of this let’s-get-down-to-it podcast, hosted by the tirelessly posi Pete Holmes, know there are a few topics that tend to come up (repeatedly); religion, sex, virginity, the inherent literal awesomeness of our everyday existence. This week’s live, SXSW edition of the show delivered on all fronts and made it weirder than usual, eschewing it’s one-on-one format in favor of four guests, who also just happen to be four of my favorite funny people: (in order of appearance) Kumail Nanjiani, Judd Apatow, Chris Gethard, and Todd Barry. The episode opens with a drinking game and ends with Holmes asking each guest whether they believe in God, but the episode’s A-plot centers on public access host Gethard. Heavyweight producer (see what I did there?) Apatow admits he recently picked up a copy of Gethard’s book, and the jokes about options and adaptations flow through the rest of the show, interspersed with stories about trying on condoms (there are two), minor confrontations (Kumail didn’t tell Pete he auditioned for SNL! Todd thinks the e-trade baby bites his style!), and maddeningly infectious bouts of laughter. “What is this, heaven on Earth?” the host wonders halfway through. “This is the most fun I’ve ever had!”
Get Up On This #33 – Emily Gordon
It’s That Episode #10 – John Gemberling
Never Not Funny #1015 – Matt Walsh
Pod Awful Episode 330 – Hate Maile (The Ex-Girlfriend Episode)
The Dead Authors Podcast Chapter 7: P.G. Wodehouse – Brian Stack
The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show #36 – Craig Rowin
The Todd Glass Show #37 – James Adomian
WTF with Marc Maron #262– Fred Willard
Jesse David Fox is a freelance writer, cat person, and Jew (in that order). He lives in Brooklyn. His iPod is broken.
Lindsey Allen lives in Austin, TX. She has perfect teeth and a nice smell. A class act, all the way.
Roger Cormier never uses a tricycle in his analogies.
Samantha Pitchel will totally option your memoirs.