What's everyone's plan for Memorial Day? Wearing white? Watching Men In Black? It's a black and white weekend. Here's an idea: bring a couple podcasts with ya. I'm aware I'm talking about podcasts like they're lawn chairs but in a way aren't podcasts just like lawn chairs for our ears? In that they… are a recreational object, usually used outside one's home and are good for sitting back and relaxing. Nailed it! (No I didn't.) Enjoy this week's picks and your Memorial Day, please.
BRADFORD: WTF with Marc Maron #280 - Danny McBride
It’s always nice when a podcaster scores a big guest who doesn’t normally do the podcast circuit, and this week, Marc Maron plays host to Eastbound & Down’s Danny McBride in what may be McBride’s first ever podcast appearance. Maron and McBride fall into a jovial and fun rapport right off the bat in what becomes a revealing look at Danny McBride’s past and a portrait of who the man beneath hell-raising characters like Kenny Powers really is. McBride tells some great stories about his early frustrations with the entertainment industry in the late 90s, including one about him getting dumped and tearfully quitting his job at the Crocodile Café and another about losing a fight to his ex-girlfriend’s new man. Danny McBride delivers such a strong and convincing performance in Eastbound & Down that, like Maron, I expected him to be a lot like Kenny Powers in real life. It’s nice to find that the man behind the character is Powers’s polar opposite but every bit as compelling.
JAY: Mohr Stories #54 – Barry Katz
Jay Mohr is one of the most gangster figures in comedy podcasting. He started the first West Coast/West Coast comedy podcast beef (unless you count the fake Jim and Eddie Talk Sh*t and Apple Sisters feud) by dissing Redban of the Deathsquad Network, leaving the Smodcast Network, and negotiating to appear on Ace Broadcasting before ultimately setting out on his own with Fake Mustache Studios. Playing Suge Knight to Jay’s Tupac is comedy super manager Barry Katz, who joins Jay on this episode of Mohr Stories. Barry and Jay begin the podcast by talking about the early days in Jay’s comedy career when he hung out with Jim Breuer and Todd Glass. Then they address the negative rumors about themselves. Next, it's on to the creation of Fake Mustache Studios and how the negotiations with Ace Broadcasting went sour (which sound a lot like the reason why the Kevin Smith/Adam Carolla television project ultimately did not happen). Barry gives his advice for success in 1) finding your comedy lane, 2) creating “Holy Sh*t” moments, 3) getting out of your own way, and 4) believing that the money will come. Finally, they discuss the subject of stealing (both during Saturday Night Live and Bert Kreischer’s Tracy Morgan story). Jay claims the second incident was not a case of stealing, but it led to the Deathsquad feud and a falling out with Bert Kreischer. It is hard to tell if Mohr is being 100% honest or this is just the Fake Mustache spin on some shady activities. The real answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. Only the parties involved know for sure. Whichever way you look at it, this episode of Mohr Stories offers great insight into the inner workings of show business. Let’s just hope this beef doesn’t end with a drive-by in Las Vegas.
JESSE: This American Life #464: "Invisible Made Visible " – Ryan Knighton, Tig Notaro, David Rakoff, David Sedaris
Ok, I'm admittedly going a little rogue here. Of course, This American Life is the forbearer of the podcasts will celebrate each but usually it's not particularly funny. Wry – sure. Quirky – sometimes. Funny – not often. This episode is still a lot of those first two adjectives but with a good dose of the latter. Much of that dose comes from Tig Notaro and her habit of running into Taylor Dayne everywhere and always telling her the exact same thing, "Excuse me. I'm sorry to bother you but I just have to tell you, I love your voice." It's a great story from a great comedian not necessarily known for her storytelling. Also, there is David Sedaris, apparently dressed as a clown, explaining what goes through his head when he has to wait behind dumb talkative people in line for coffee. David Rakoff tells a difficult yet beautiful and sometimes very funny story about living with one flail limb. It was all taken from a live show that was recently filmed and played in movie theatres around the country. This American Life is not everyone's cup of tea – and it most definitely would be a cup of tea, if it were any drink – but it has been incredibly important to the world of audio storytelling. This is a good entry point for those only used to the comedy variety of podcastery
JOEL: Girl on Guy with Aisha Tyler #48 - Anthony Bourdain
I’m not above a little fandom cult of personality BS in my podcast intake. In fact it’s rather enjoyable when you happen upon the right kind of personality pairing. Vagabond author and television food host, Anthony Bourdain, jumps in on Aisha Tyler’s Girl On Guy free-flowing interview show. It’s an easy episode pick with two of my favorite bold personalities trading passionate anecdotes and theories. In addition to her various comedic endeavors, Tyler always brings keeps things high energy and loose but still very passionate on the show. It’s an easy conversation with Bourdain from the get-go. Topics keep dancing along various kitchen/food topics and tropes. They also throw in discussions about obscure movies, FX’s Archer, Ted Nugent, Rocky Balboa and a bunch more. Bourdain also adds some great nitty-gritty kitchen, food and travel stories. The tone is jointly aggressive, both Tyler and Bourdain teaming up on all encountered topics. It’s not always pure comedy. Comedy becomes an even broader term with podcasts these days. Tyler’s Girl On Guy is another example of this widening scope. “Fun” can count as “funny” – we’ll all be okay getting less strict. A little more loose. All while trying to give a shit about something. Tyler and Bourdain can help lead the way.
LINDSEY: Who Charted? #77- Pete Holmes
Who wants to hear Pete Holmes say the words "plant-based dick"? Or run through a series of "yo' momma" jokes aimed towards songstress Nora Jones? Everyone? That's what I thought. So glad we are on the same wavelength. Everything involving Pete Holmes has been running long lately, with his own podcast You Made It Weird nearing two hours twice a week, his episode of Making It with Riki Lindhome becoming a two-parter, and now clocking in an hour and a half plus on this week's Who Charted? with Kulap and Howard, but I don't care at all. Let this man talk forever, please. (He probably would, if we let him.) So delightful, even when he's doing an impression of Mark Wahlberg that slowly morphs into a Jason Mantzoukas while trying to coax that egg out of Hermes. And making fun of Aziz Ansari. I could listen to that all day. I probably will listen to that all day, you guys. I've already played this episode twice. A third time won't hurt. Let Pete Holmes take his joke panties off and pleasure your ears for a while. You'll love it, I promise.
MARC: Lovitz & Slayton
How Saturday Night Live alum Jon Lovitz and Bobby Slayton, stand-up’s “Pitbull of Comedy”, first got together and cooked up the idea that they should co-host a podcast is anyone’s guess. So far, since February they managed to put on a dozen one-hour shows, initially barked out live from the comedy club that bear’s Lovitz’ name at the Universal City Walk in Los Angeles. The two hosts are definitely funny together, although they mix like oil and…some slightly different oil. Plus they have Mallory, a much younger voice and the woman who seems to keep them in check, as well as hauling them back over a slippery line of good taste, at least some of the time. In their most recent episode, Lovtiz goes off on a healthy-eating rant, waxing on about his incredible “Fit For Life” regimen, developed while appearing on Broadway. All the while, he’s chomping on potato chips, which Slayton needles him relentlessly about. Slayton’s beef is constantly about how he really needs some money, to which Lovitz counters that if they could perhaps start doing a two-hour show instead of just the one, “We’d be raking in millions!”, as he assures his skeptical cohost. Their one caller during the show, Walter, is a big fan and volunteers to come in as their unpaid call-screener even though he has two other jobs already. Seems like he’ll fit right in. As odd a blend as these two and a half podcasters are, they’re absurdly funny and well worth checking out.
ROGER: Gelmania VII - Scott Aukerman, Curtis Gwinn
Gelmania is the podcast that Charles Manson would have if he had any sense of humor. It's a crazy mess run by Brett Gelman, who portrays a Brett Gelman that seems preoccupied in two things: 1) awakening the complacent masses from their complacent listen to two podcasts a day lives through needlessly vulgar insults and repeating silly platitudes and 2) talking about whether or not he'll do another installment of Gelmania. Acting like a cult leader and speaking like the possible self-cancellation of the podcast would be art's biggest loss, gives the podcast an air of self-importance, which makes it even more ridiculous, unique and most importantly funny. It's unknown whether a talented engineer or Gelman – who used to be in a comedy hip hop group with all-star improviser Jon Daly called Cracked Out – is responsible for the surprising amount of audio magic on the show that gives Gelmania its distinctive feel. There are voices run through heavy distortion, tape loops, and a literally 10 minute long drone that scores our insane Leader saying "I don't know if I can do this anymore/because/well…/that was it/I think this might be the last one" over and over and over again with the power of a cult chant. Meanwhile, there's a good chance the co-star of Eagleheart is responsible for the two songs, "What Is Going On In The World Today?" and "100 %" considering that the beats are catchy and it would be inappropriate to sing the lyrics in public. It's a good thing that Brett Gelman spends his energy on comedy and not on actually running a cult because even Scott Aukerman – the President of Podcasting himself – appeared on the show to unsuccessfully convince Gelman that it's wrong to tell banned from Comedy Bang! Bang! stories on Gelmania. "Revolution comes for us all," Aukerman said to end both the segment and our lives with our heads in the sand.
SAMANTHA: Improv Obsession #18 – Alex Fernie
This week host Stephen Perlstein visits Alex Fernie, Funny or Die writer, UCB teacher and member of Sentimental Lady, Dierkes and Fernie and record-breaking cage match champs Convoy (Fun fact: he also appeared in the baffling pilot for Tom Lennon and Ben Garant’s futuristic passion project U.S.S. Alabama). True to the show's straightforward Q&A style they dive right into Fernie’s favorite formats, circling around parlor tricks and the pretty flower before landing on their main topic: specificity. I love Improv Obsession because there’s zero pretense that you’re not signing on for an hour of serious nerdery, and it’s especially true in this episode, which is like a workshop on gift-giving and intelligence.
How Was Your Week? #63 – Curtis Gwinn, Choire Sicha
improv4humans #27: Neil Campbell, Mike Mitchell, Paul Rust
Mike & Tom Eat Snacks #59
Pop My Culture #80: Ken Marino
Sklarboro Country #95: Rich Eisen, Dan Van Kirk
This Better Be Funny #24 - Jerrod Carmichael
Thrilling Adventure Hour #72: Beyond Belief, "Goatbusters" – Paul F. Tompkins, Paget Brewster, Mark Gagliardi, Matt Gourley, Gillian Jacobs, and Natalie Morales
Weird Adults with Little Esther #2 - Jonathan Daniel Brown
You Made It Weird # 51 – Kurt Braunohler
You Had To Be There # 64 – Megan Ganz
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 is the new spokesperson for New Asbestos.
Samantha Pitchel does things for CultureMap Austin, HuffPost Comedy and SXSW Comedy.