Splitsider

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

This Week in Comedy Podcasts

“Knock knock.”

Who’s there?

“Pod.”

Pod, who?

“Podcast.”

Oh, Podcast, come on in.

“Thanks.”

How’s it going, dudester?

“Can’t complain.”

Classic podcast. Where you living these days?

“The Internet, still.”

That makes sense. What’ve you been getting yourself into?

“Mostly the same old. I started smoking weed again.”

More like POTcast, amirite?

“You are the worst.”

You mean best and thank you.

“What have you been up to?”

You know, writing about, well, you, actually.

“Oh yeah, what did you guys pick this week?”

Let me show you:

BRADFORD: The Best Show on WFMU – Ted Leo

Some of my favorite moments in Best Show history are when host Tom Scharpling ribs soon-to-be-retired filmmaker Kevin Smith, and Smith is the target of Scharpling’s goofing again this week when he goes on a very funny flight of fancy speculating what Smith’s proposed Clerks musical would be like. Scharpling also pokes fun at Gene Simmons’s voicing of his political beliefs, pointing out that, “Anybody who says ‘[in] their humble opinion’ is the opposite of humble and they don’t even have any interest in being humble.” It’s an episode with all of The Best Show’s key elements present: solid rants from Tom Scharpling, a trio of inside joke-laden calls from Jon Wurster, a visit from Gary the Squirrel (my favorite puppet on the radio), and a call from Ted Leo, who’s still a nice guy despite the fact that no one rang up the show to point it out this week.

JAY: Bullseye with Jesse Thorn – Bob Newhart, Mister Rogers and Me

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn is the podcast formerly known as The Sound of Young America, which itself was originally a radio show created in college by Jesse, Jordan Morris, and Gene O'Neill. Bullseye mainly focuses on interviews with notable personalities and other content that may be of interest to young adults. This week's episode will be particularly appealing to kids of the 70's and 80's. The podcast begins with two video game reviews by comedians Heather Anne Campbell and Kumail Nanjiani. Jesse then talks with iconic comedian/actor Bob Newhart about his legendary career. Newhart was an accountant before comedy called him into service. He explains his humble beginnings in show business, the amazing success of his first album, and offers some sage advice to young comedians. Bob goes on to tell us why he believes comedians make the best sitcom stars and sums up the reason he still tours by asking: "why would you want to stop making people laugh?" The next segment gives us God's view on sports, as told to comedy writer David Javerbaum. The podcast concludes with Jesse's interview of Ben and Christopher Wagner, the filmmakers behind the documentary "Mister Rogers and Me." Ben happened to rent a vacation home next to Fred Rogers in the summer of 2001. Within 30 minutes of meeting Mr. Rogers, Ben had already opened up to him about his parents' divorce. The man was such a pure, powerful force for good that the Wagners were inspired to make a movie about his life and legacy. From video games to Bob Newhart to Mister Rogers, this episode of Bullseye with Jesse Thorn will make you laugh and cry (seriously.) So, in honor of Mister Rogers, I'd like to be a good neighbor and say Bullseye made it a special day for me just by being itself. There's only one podcast in the world like it and I like Bullseye just the way it is. See you next week. Good-bye.

JESSE: Earwolf Presents: Jon Daly’s Rafflecast #2 – Rob Huebel, Megan Amram, Brandon Johnson

When asked for Podcast advice, Superego’s Matt Gourley responded, “Record three episodes first and burn them.” The fact is the first few episodes of any podcast can be a bit hairy. Yet this scattered, all-over-the-placeness seemed to work for the second episode of Jon Daly’s Rafflecast. His comedy is so irreverent, so specific that it would only be right for some things to not really work. So maybe the partially hilarious scene where the shockjock interviews a slutty porn actress and an AIDS-infected African porn actor goes on a little long but once you get to his doo-wop song about Forrest Gump it all seems just so, so right. The concept behind Rafflecast is people write in suggestions and Jon Daly Dalyizes it. This week an idea to do something about Stephen Hawking became an interview in which Dr. SH talking computer thing was stuck on the phrase: “I live for pussy.” The man is obviously doing God’s work.

JOEL: This Better Be Funny #17 – Andy Peters

I’m learning comedy isn’t always a clean process. This Better Be Funny is a high quality proof of this edict. While the show is certainly a member of the meandering conversation group, hosts Jake Kroeger and Jeremy Paul seem to double-down on the looseness, revealing a literal on-the-street riffing version of comedians hanging out. I have ties to the show and this episode from knowing Jake Kroeger and their guest Andy Peters, plus my own affinity for my local comedy scene, the slew of performers, open mics and independent shows. It’s a treat to have a show reveal such an honest reflection of comedians hanging out, pushing each other’s buttons and generally being ridiculous. The show positions Kroeger and Paul as two down-and-out comedians exploring various topics, searching for the comedy and possible on-stage bits. One of the Los Angeles’ best on-stage riffers, Andy Peters’ pop culture knowledge and knack for the absurd keeps the funny coming throughout the episode. Kroeger is full of random facts – that may or may not be true – such as the current shortage of Spam. Peters’ faux anger and continual push-back to Kroeger and Paul’s ridiculousness serves as a welcome foil to the many inappropriate topic turns. Peters’ attempt to rename the podcast as “Two Sad Dudes” isn’t too far from the truth, revealing the fun to be had in the honest and maybe even a little sad conversations among comedians.

LINDSEY: It's That Episode with Craig Rowin #12- Jeff Rubin/Saved By The Bell: “Graduation”

This podcast brought back some memories I think I've been suppressing. I haven't thought about Saved by The Bell in ages, yet when I started listening to this week's It's That Episode, a lot of stuff came flooding back. Waking up early before school so I could watch the two episodes that ran every morning on TBS, getting excited when I would catch an early Miss Bliss repeat, even the lyrics to the theme song. (I sang it aloud and it was perfect.)  Normally this would make me cringe, but apparently I'm not alone. Jeff Rubin (of CollegeHumor) and Craig Rowin spend the hour discussing their mutual SBTB obsession, the strange impact it had on both of their lives, and the loveliness of Kelly Kapowski. The particular episode they focus on is the finale (graduation! ballet! nerds!) and I promise you will be delighted with their discussion of how absurd yet utterly watchable the show still is. Also, this is probably the only time Battlestar Galactica and Saved by the Bell will be mentioned in the same context, unless you plan on bringing up this podcast with your friends. (Do it.) Side-note: every episode of SBTB is on Netflix Instant. You can pretend you're not going to spend the whole night watching them, but I know you will be lying.

MARC: Tiny Odd Conversations # 42 - Clementine Ford

I’m not sure Tiny Odd Conversations (TOC) qualifies as a “comedy podcast” per se, but maybe that’s because I’ve gotten so used to the standard of comedians hosting them. What I’ve heard so far is pretty entertaining. And one half of the married pair of co-hosts, Travis and Brandi, IS the son of comedian and actor Blake Clark, so his DNA certainly would pass muster. (Blake was the guest in the previous episode of TOC and it was very interesting to hear both sides of growing up as the son of a comedian who was on the road more than he wasn’t.) THIS episode is being touted as the first “piecast”, where the hosts and their guest, actress Clementine Ford, get into a variety of subjects while stuffing their pieholes with, well, pie. Pecan, Dutch Apple and Pumpkin, to be exact. Since they’re friends with Ford, the Clarks don’t dip too deep into her resume — she was on The Young & The Restless for four years as Mackenzie Browning and also appeared on Showtime’s The L Word, where she played the daughter to her real-life mother, Cybill Shepherd. Instead they go on a rollicking chatfest about everything from tongue cramps and inappropriate behavior with mouthguards to Ford’s fear of ghost rape and demonic hauntings. The piecast is split into three segments – the actual eating of the pies, the sugar rush from said pies, and the crash after the suger wears off. Travis clearly is the captain of this p’cast and seems pretty relentless in taunting his wife whenever she makes some kind of verbal gaffe, but it’s the chemistry of the show and I found myself waiting for what she might say next that was going to set off his next f-bomb.

ROGER: The Long Shot Podcast #503 – Anthony Jeselnik

On a Sunday night in Williamsburg last summer, Anthony Jeselnik told the following joke (that I'm sure I'm paraphrasing because I have a terrible memory): "I've been searching for my girlfriend's killer for two years now." Beat. "But nobody is willing to do it." Jokes like those lead some to believe that Jeselnik's hobbies are to throw people into rush hour traffic and start fights – to be Ryan Gosling's exact opposite, basically. In reality, as Jeselnik admitted on The Long Shot last week, he's an individual that sometimes tips a healthy amount of money to a waiter or waitress who didn't do a great job, believing that the poor performance must be due to them having a bad day. This came up during a planned discussion on kindness, the nature of which was sincerely and humorously debated upon by the co-hosts Sean Conroy, Eddie "Bitter Buddha" Pepitone, David Wain voice twin Jamie Flam (every time he talks I get excited and think it's David Wain talking, but then it is not David Wain talking. I feel sorry for Flam) and Amber Kenny. It's easy to be kind to "Why Can't I Have A Scottish TV Show?" specifically and The Long Shot in general, considering that they have the following working format: Act One: a guest free twenty minute intro where the hosts just shoot the shit about their lives as professional comedians dealing with The Business. Act Two: Guest joins in on a discussion about a specific topic. The lazy "What's going on with you?" conversation is entertaining since the hosts are incapable of talking very long without making a funny, and us nerds are desperate to hear about what the daily lives of the semi-successful comedians are like anyway, and when the guest comes on he or she is challenged to be amusing in specific parameters, resulting in them organically saying things they haven't already said on fifteen podcasts before.

SAMANTHA: Fitzdog Radio #193 – Lennon Parham, Jessica St. Clair

It's no surprise that charismatic comic Greg Fitzsimmons' show tends to be a little bromantic, with the vibe like you're hanging with your BFFs instead of observing an interview, and there's no better example than this (appropriately BFF-themed) episode. By now, NBC's mid-season sitcom Best Friends Forever has officially premiered, and surely everyone's in love with it already, yes? This week, Fitzdog Radio hangs with co-stars, and IRL besties, Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair. Refreshingly, it's light on 'delicately treading around talking about gender and comedy' and heavy on 'let's talk about girls making out with girls without acting like five-year-olds about it.' Host Fitzsimmons gets immediately characteristically bawdy, rallying bits back and forth with an exuberant St. Clair and razor-sharp Parham, and we dare you to get through the hour without daydreaming about a friend date with this trio.

HONORABLE MENTION:

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improv4humans #20 – Lauren Lapkus, Seth Morris, Brian Huskey

Judge John Hodgman #54- Die Flederhaus

Sklarboro Country #88 – Taran Killam, James Adomian, Dan Van Kirk

The Champs – Hannibal Buress

The Little Dum Dum Club #79 – Kyle Kinane

WTF with Marc Maron #267 – Carrie Brownstein


Jesse David Fox is a 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.

Jay Kuperstein is a writer, founder of ComedyK.com, and attorney working in Washington, DC.

Joel Mandelkorn is the co-Founder of The Plop List, Producer at CleftClips, Producer of The Super Serious Show.

Lindsey Allen lives in Austin, TX. She has perfect teeth and a nice smell. A class act, all the way.

Marc Hershon is host of Succotash, the Comedy Podcast Podcast and author of I Hate People!

Roger Cormier makes a T.G.I. Friday's waitress cry every Mother's Day.

Samantha Pitchel does things for CultureMap AustinHuffPost Comedy and SXSW Comedy.

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