Tompkins Does Many Characters, Lizz Winstead Visits ‘The Dork Forest’, and More
The Comedy Awards aired last weekend and with that came the announcement of the winner of Best Comedy
Podcast. The nominees were WTF, How Was Your Week, Comedy Bang! Bang!, Sklarbro Country, The Nerdist – a hell of a list, if I ever seen one (and, trust me, I’ve seen lists). You know your art form has really made it, when a 2-year-old award show tapes someone on the red carpet reading the winner to be posted online. Making it even better is when that red carpet someone uses half of his time to belittle the whole thing (thx Col Q). And who picked those clips? Marc Maron talking about condom, Scott Aukerman singing the “Wipe Out” riff – both classic moments? Anyway, while I continue complaining in my head, please enjoy our picks from the week, each of which is the Best Comedy Podcast (that’s not true – we understand there can only be one best, we’re just trying to be nice, get off our backs, Colin Quinn):
BRADFORD: The Long Shot #508 – Matt Knudsen
The four hosts of The Long Shot are so funny together that the show doesn’t really need a guest – and that’s why visitors to the program sometimes get lost in the proceedings. That’s not the case this week, however, when actor/comedian Matt Knudsen drops by the show. Knudsen settles into the rhythm of the show nicely, joining in on the spirited discussion. The conversation ebbs and flows, but the comedians manage to get in some funny bits, most notably Eddie Pepitone heckling a waiter and Sean Conroy performing some deliberately cheesy impressions to audition for a sleep-deprived Jamie Flam, who’s the subject of a little light ribbing this week, as usual. The Long Shot is at its best when the hosts are bringing their strong personalities to a minute topic, and this week’s theme, organization, leads them into some particularly funny comments about the difficulties of staying organized that would feel mundane coming from anyone else.
JAY: Making It with Riki Lindhome – Pete Holmes (Part 1)
Hey ladies in the place, I’m callin’ out to ya! This week I’m featuring my first podcast hosted by a lady. You may know Riki Lindhome as “Garfunkel” of Garfunkel and Oates. But she is also an actress (we share the honor of having been directed by Clint Eastwood [Ok, I was an extra. But still.]) and the host of Making It, a podcast dedicated to finding out the many paths to comedy success. Count this podcast among the many things I wish existed when I was in high school. This week’s guest is a comedian, writer, and podcaster poised for stardom: Pete Holmes. The podcast begins with a discussion of momentum, work, and decompression. Pete offers the theory that many of our favorite vices are just ways for the brain to disconnect and recharge. Then Pete lets us into his psyche and talks about his relationship problems that stem from his childhood. The pair talks about the different ways they handle relationships with exes, their disdain for sports, and the amazing spirituality of life. Things get back on track with the nominal theme of the podcast, when Pete explains his introduction to improv and stand-up. The greatest lesson of this (half) episode is that we should all work hard and come from a place of love, rather than fear. Pete and Riki barely scratched the surface in Part One. Make sure you check out Part Two when it nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnDROPS! [R.I.P. MCA]
JESSE: Doug Loves Movies – Paul F. Tompkins, Ice-T, Cake Boss
When this podcast plopped on Friday, I was like “T.G.I.F.” Then I was like “ICE-T.G.I.F.” and then my iPod grew eyes just to roll them at that dumb joke. I think it’s ok for me to reveal that the Ice-T and Cake Boss listed above weren’t the real Ice and Cake; it was all Paul F. Tompkins. What I like about PFT’s impersonations, besides EVERYTHING, is he plays his characters as thinly veiled as possible. As a result, Ice-T will say the word “canonically” and mention that he and Coco are “not part of the Girls backlash.” This also means that all three contestants are unusually good at the games. They were already over time before the game of Build a Title finished. It didn’t help that Cake Boss was declared the new Pete Holmes, the most dubious of DLM titles. Anyway, it was great!
JOEL: The Bugle #193 “Happy Deathiversary!”
It’s a Presidential election year, which means paying attention is like taking a daily punch in the face. Lucky for me, I have The Bugle, the best stupidity antidote – especially for these politically inane times. John Oliver and Andy Zaltman continue to push ahead with the quality riffing, even while recording the show from different continents. This week out, Oliver provides a bit of behind the scenes Daily Show insight with some fun George Clinton (The Funk) anecdotes. The guys quickly dive head first into the best Bin Laden Assassination Anniversary comedy workshop, lambasting the greeting card industry, Bin Laden’s excesses and anyone making political hay from the Bin Laden assassination. The Bugle is the best kind of angry humor – nothing is sacred. The freedom Oliver and Zaltman exercise allows the funny to walk the yard, freely picking fights with whoever’s unlucky enough to make eye contact. Oliver and Zaltman get a lot out of the released Bin Laden documents. Zaltman even sneaks in a bit of sketch humor with an overly honest Bin Laden final recording. Pretty sure the intellectually devoid election year politics are going to keep handing out daily face punches. Thankfully, we have The Bugle to help fight back.
LINDSEY: My Brother, My Brother and Me #103
I’ve written about the brothers McElroy before, but I need to mention them again because you guys aren’t singing their praises in the comments. I just want you all to listen to them and pretend that they are your best friends/brothers like some of us do. (Me. Mostly me.) This week, the MBMBAM crew discuss tempura faces, karate court dates, and show off their Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker impressions. Oh yeah, they also dole out advice on each subject so well that you will feel like a dummy for even posting that question on Yahoo!Answers. There’s even a Police Academy reference thrown in for good measure. Speaking of the Police Academy franchise, are we keeping track of its presence in our society? It’s Police Academy week over at The A.V. Club and Bobcat Goldthwait was on the new episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! The universe has a plan for us, and that plan is to find the next Steve Guttenberg. Help us all. Unless you are the next Guttenberg. If that’s the case, call me. Or at least follow me on twitter.
Right after I had had my first taste of this show (which was Episode 8), I ran into the host, comedian Cash Levy. That bit of serendipity ended up helping me get the gimmick behind this fast-paced, somewhat rambling podcast: The only guest Cash ever has is TJ Miller. For every episode. And yet it’s treated like he is a returning guest who hasn’t been in for a while. The reason for the angle is that it’s a commentary on the round robining so many comedians and others have going on, moving from podcast to podcast. They have features that pop up like you might find on other shows that the guests have to play along, like “The Triple Banger Lightning Round”. In this episode, the host Levy not only asks the three questions, he answers them, too. Then Miller grills him for details before answering the questions, too. (And the questions are pretty random. Example: “What’s more annoying: Raking leaves or religious zealots.”) There is also “What Hurts?”, “Tiny Opinions” and in grand talk-show fashion, they also swap real life tales from the road. TJ also has issues with certain phrases: “My calves hurt”, for instance he doesn’t like because he doesn’t care for the word calves. You get the idea by now, I’d hope.
ROGER: Pod F. Tompkast # 17 – John Hodgman, Jen Kirkman
There are only three segments to the Pod. F. Tompkast, and they appear in every episode without fail: A phone call to Jen Kirkman in which she recalls a humorous and embarrassing story from her past; a taped segment from Paul F. Tompkins’ monthly show at Largo; and a bit involving the misadventures of Garry Marshall and his unlikely cohorts, all voiced by PFT Those segments are always welcome (particularly if they involve Werner Herzog. How Herzog hasn’t been mined for the comedy gold that he is for so long is a mystery that is so perplexing Herzog himself might find it interesting enough to make a movie about it), but what makes the show unique is how approximately sixty percent of it is spent on Tompkins’ mastery of the fine art of off the cuff humorous digression which he showcased in the first three tracks of his stand-up album Freak Wharf. A great example of how strangely effective he is at something that seems doomed to fail began when the Herzog character mentioned the comic strip Henry. The subsequent riff about the obscure comic strip started off with Tompkins annoyingly wondering out loud about a factoid that was googleable but became funny when he explained that the reason why the 10 year old titular character was bald was on account of all children back in the 30s working in the same factory. About a minute later Tompkins claimed someone with the name “President Barack Obama” existed decades before the current POTUS was born and it somehow was a natural, humorous progression from the aforementioned topic. It’s hypnotic, and by the time the one hour and thirty six minute edition concluded (longest one to date), Tompkins talked around the world and back, with a folksy yet contemporary charm that made it not only tolerable but entertaining to listen to one man shooting the shit presumably about anything that comes to him.
SAMANTHA: The Dork Forest #115 – Lizz Winstead
Jackie Kashian’s show is a tribute to a satisfying truth: That our deepest, dorkiest secrets are really the keys to our success. Her guest this week is Lizz Winstead, whose interest in two incredibly nerdy topics, comedy and politics, converged to create a unique multi-disciplinary career path — and a series of award-winning shows that have changed the way we access and analyze the world around us. Winstead got her start in stand-up and is best known as the co-creator and former head writer of The Daily Show (and producer of precursor The Jon Stewart Show), as well as co-founder of progressive political station Air America Radio; as Kashian notes, her “dork-dom is very specialized, in the fact that it’s very much about the news and about politics and about the minutia of who is actually running things.” Hearing her talk, it’s easy to see how much The Daily Show owes credit for its irreverent but well-informed tone; Winstead’s got equally expert opinions on a former neighbor’s conspiracy theories about Buddy Holly’s secret identity and Judi Dench in a bikini. We could listen to her go on for hours, so it’s a good thing her latest project, a book of essays titled Lizz Free or Die, is out today. (Psst: Winstead also appears on this week’s Moth podcast, reading her story “The 25 Cent Spa.”)
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.
Lindsey Allen lives in Austin, TX. She has perfect teeth and a nice smell. A class act, all the way.
Roger Cormier is not going to go on a cruise to Nova Scotia with you.