The comedy podcast universe is ever expanding, not unlike the universe universe. We're here to make it a bit smaller, a bit more manageable. There are a lot of great shows and each has a lot of great episodes, so we want to highlight the exceptional, the noteworthy. Each week our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists and especially enthusiastic people will pick their favorites. Also, we'll keep you posted on the offerings from our very own podcast network. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural funny.
Bradford: The Best Show on WFMU #508
Fans of The Best Show are no doubt familiar with host Tom Scharpling joking around about quitting the show and leaving the program behind, and we got our fair share this week, with Scharpling referring to the latest installment as the “final episode” several times throughout. There seems to be some degree of truth behind the jokes this time around, though, as Scharpling explains that he’s about to “go away for a little bit,” and the break looks like it’ll be at least two weeks according to future guest host bookings listed on the WFMU website. It was a heck of a show to go out on, though, with a trio of high-profile callers: comedian Andy Kindler (who spoke about how Marc Maron’s WTF led him to discover The Best Show on the 300th episode of Maron’s show), music producer Steve Albini (who Scharpling has been trying to get to call in for a while now after finding that a frequent caller works for Albini), and Andrew Rose Gregory of The Gregory Brothers (who worked with Scharpling on a failed Comedy Central pilot last year). Other highlights include the debut of Gary the Squirrel’s podcast Comedians are Nuts (complete with a slew of top-notch theme songs), Scharpling continuing to give his subpar callers the Bad Company treatment, and a 70s-era Abbott and Costello routine with Gary the Squirrel filling in for Costello. Tom Scharpling says it could be a month before he returns to The Best Show, which is a shame, but at least he went out swinging. That’s the right metaphor, right? Sports?
Jay: The Adam Carolla Show – 8/13 Seth MacFarlane (Originally aired March 17, 2009)
The gang at The Adam Carolla Show may be on vacation this week, but that doesn't mean the show is taking a week off. In place of new episodes, Adam is giving us a chance to look back at the humble origins of the Ace Broadcasting empire. See, the main reason we are all here is that Clear Channel killed the "Hot Talk" radio format, flipping terrestrial talk stations to Top 40, Sports Talk, etc. Nearly all of the best hosts found themselves out of work, with nowhere to go but the Internet. Carolla jumped at the opportunity to continue his show and his podcast was born. Anyway, one of Adam's first guests (before he even had a studio) was Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane. The pair sat down in Adam's office with a bottle of Jack Daniel's and discussed life. They began with talk about Seth's early animation obsession, regional accents, massages, and religion. The conversation dovetailed nicely into Seth's story about missing his flight out of Boston on 9/11; a flight that later hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center. Then Seth talked about a possible Family Guy movie, television pilots, the creative brain, and the difference between Gene Kelly and Justin Timberlake. The podcast concluded with Seth's time at Hanna-Barbera, his transition to Fox, and some Stewie Griffin (if he won the Super Bowl).
Jesse: How Was Your Week: Special Minisode – David Rakoff
There are a lot of people who are more qualified than I to write about David Rakoff and they have very beautifully. I am just a fan and one of the scores of writers who looked up to his ability to at the same time be so funny, so poignant, and so devastatingly smart. (It sounds simple enough but it is incredibly difficult to be so funny and so apparently smart and not distance yourself from the reader.) I first really familiarized with David's work because of when this interview, in its edited form, first aired last September. The way he spoke about pessimism and not being good at being young and desserts really resonated with me. I'm currently rereading his books and if you've never read him, you should; however, this podcast episode offers something that can't come from the books or other interviews: David in very casual conversation. You feel as lucky to hear his thoughts on Korean fried chicken as you do his thoughts on how ultimately being a pessimist is no worse for you than being an optimist. It is a tough but incredibly worthwhile listen.
Joel: Pop My Culture #88 – Ian Edwards
After years of the summer break cycle, we’re officially trained to really get into our pop culture minds during the warm season. It makes sense there’s a lot of great stuff from The Pop My Culture duo, of late. Cole Stratton and Vanessa Ragland welcome in one of today’s more naturally funny comedians, Ian Edwards, for a particularly laid back episode. Before Edwards pops in, Stratton and Ragland have a bit of fun doing their listen thank yous as raspy Batman and Alfred the butler (aka Michael Caine). Edwards brings along his biting cynicism and quick-witted observations and really adds a lot to the normal Stratton and Ragland fun bits of silliness. Though, Edwards doesn’t push too hard for any joke, like some guests are apt to do. Instead, listeners get to just listen in on a few funny folk shooting the shit about the latest summer happenings. Ragland continues to standout with her joyful ways and timely inappropriate questions. Stratton is skilled at pushing the jokes and the conversation along. Highlights include Edwards’ Spiderman is a clutz rant, the gang talking dirty/sexy Olympic Village and dissecting the latest Dark Knight flick. There are some straight quality riffs that include Catwoman’s financial planning issues and the need to support crazy people’s artistic passions. Edwards also shares a bit of his comedic drive-thru-related beginnings and some fun behind-the-scenes stories from Punk’d. It all makes for a fun summer afternoon listen.
Lindsey: Cashing in with T.J. Miller #23
Good news! Cash MLevy got some guests this week. The roundtable includes Anna Farris, Will Ferrell, Max Patkin (the Clown Prince of Baseball) as well as the usual T.J. Miller. It’s a shame that they weren’t able to come upstairs, though. Apparently, the tasty Indian restaurant below the studio is amazing and no one was able to part with their naan long enough to come up and have a chat. So that means we’re stuck again with good ol’ Miller, because the Ang[o]lina Jolie’s and M[o]donna's (Cash can't spell) of the world aren’t ready for triple banger lighting rounds. That’s okay. We got to listen to T.J. talk about the nevels/levels of hell, whisker tits and garbage cocks. A lot of this episode is pretty standard by Cashing In standards, but I feel like it is noteworthy due to a huge block being devoted to Cash telling us about the time he birthed a botfly, describing it in horrifying detail and reading poetry about other people's botfly experiences. Maybe you should just take my advice and not get sucked into Googling said bug because you might throw up. (You will.) Instead, go outside and enjoy nature and try to avoid strange men with cell phone holsters at all costs.
Marc: The Thrilling Adventure Hour #83: Cactoid Jim, King of The Martian Frontier
“It’s the nation’s favorite new-time podcast in the style of old-time radio,” intro’s the announcer for the Thrilling Adventure Hour. And by that he means you’re about to hear an audio play put on in front of a live audience. Cactoid Jim is a recently new recurring character in the pantheon of folks produced by Ben Acker & Ben Blacker, the minds behind TAH. Jim is a spinoff from a regular feature, "Sparks Nevada, Marshal On Mars" and, voiced by Nathan Fillion. He’s a heroic fellow cast in the mold of a matinee movie cowboy. As such, the character plays pretty closely to Fillion’s Captain Malcolm Reynolds role on Joss Whedon’s Firefly series. Jim reels off mouthfuls of Martian-fried wisdoms, such as “From the smallest moons often come the biggest ideas.” It’s double fanboy reunion time this episode, as the guest stars include Fillion’s Firefly co-star Adam Baldwin who, in turn, is joined by Chuck co-star Zachary Levi. The pair play former partners of Jim's who have traveled forward in time to bring him back to the past he’d been snatched from — it’s a twist tale of time travel that gets even screwier as the story unwinds. As a fan of REAL old-time radio shows, it’s fun to listen to imagination-filling entertainment the way our grandparents used to experience it, back when the only 3D was the actual three dimensions.
Roger: Mike and Tom Eat Snacks – Episode 66
Did you know that NBC has tried to premiere shows during the Olympics before? And that only one new show in the past three Olympics had more than one season on the air? And that show was Ed? Then you probably know about this podcast, since the two hosts were two of the show's stars, Tom "Ed" Cavanagh and Michael Ian Black. Black's persona's trademark hubris is all over the packaging of MATES, whose episode descriptions are rarely anything more than the name of the food Mike and Tom try and the question of if the two enjoyed it. There are rarely guests, and when they call in to the show it isn't advertised. (NBC would never do that.) It solely relies on two men to eat a food and riff on various subjects that may or may not stem organically from the food product in question. Fortunately, Black and Cavanagh know what they're doing. "Episode 66" had a lot to like in particular, like Tom turning the boring question of "What is it like to be Ryan Seacrest?" into something really funny, when he assumes that it is a "shit show", with the bit going from there. Or how the fact that the food this week was Ho Hos did not lead down the sophomoric you might expect. Regardless, I have enough faith by now in these men who once owned a piece of prime time network television real estate that it would had been funny anyway.
Samantha: The Mutant Season #42 – John Kricfalusi
Ok, let's get this out of the way: Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi, aka John K, sounds an awful lot like Norm McDonald (according to this one podcast I’ve heard him on). The cartoonist responsible for some of the crazier shit that shaped many of our early childhoods is promoting his new Kickstarter-funded show, Cans Without Labels, and though his breakthrough hit came out when I was our 10-year-old host's age, it’s not hard to see why R&S’s dark humor still has an impact on kids. In true form, Kricfalusi starts off by asking Gil — who recently had a birthday — whether his “pecs have dropped yet,” and the banter builds from there. The episode includes a primer on The Ripping Friends, a discussion on the necessity of weak sidekicks, ruminations on real-life superpowers, and a seriously adorable aside where Gil asks producer Katie to edit out his revelation that “TV is fake.”
This Week in the Splitsider Podcast Network:
A Funny Thing #22 – Jim O Grady "Monkey Shines"
On this week's A Funny Thing Jim O'Grady goes tete-a-tete with a clever little monkey. The prize? Romance! The complicating factor? Horror auteur George Romero! Brace yourself for the climax, a scene of wriggling, oral horror worthy of Romero himself.
It's That Episode #29 – Matt Servitto/'The Sopranos'
This week, Matt Servitto (The Sopranos) stops by to discuss the finale of The Sopranos. Matt discusses why FBI agents love his character, and what it was like working on a set full of great actors and great cannolis. Find out how Matt accidentally told the Daily News about a non-existent alternate ending of The Sopranos and how no one wanted to improvise with him on the set of a Woody Allen film.
Left Handed Radio: The Sequel Machine – "Spider-Man 4"
The Sequel Machine recruits 25 writers to write the sequels for film's biggest franchises one page at a time. The catch is, the writers only get to read the page before theirs in a round-robin, exquisite corpse style. The end result is a hilarious, twisted, and as coherent as any misquided Hollywood sequel. This month: Spider-Man 4.
The Complete Guide To Everything: Internships
In this episode, Tim and Tom share their internship experiences, which should give you a good idea of how not to approach your own internships. Listen to hear Tim talk about the record label he interned at getting sold halfway through his work there, resulting in two months of fetching beer for sad people who were about to be unemployed. Also, Tom talks about possibly almost getting killed by the police during a misunderstanding on the set of America's Most Wanted.
The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show: Olympic Opening Ceremony Extra Mike Reeve
This week on The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show my guest is Mike Reeve, one of the 7,500 volunteers who participated in the Olympic Opening Ceremony. That's him at the pointy end of the big arrow in the picture above. We discuss what it's like to go to a dance audition with no dancing experience, how director Danny Boyle articulated his vision to the cast, and what you actually get for participating.
You Had To Be There #75 – Anya Marina
This week, Nikki and Sara mix things up in a few ways: one, instead of their normal catching up on life at the top of the show, they answer questions from fans. Two, this week's guest is not a comedian, but instead the amazingly talented musician Anya Marina (who also just happens to be very funny). Anya describes her experience being on the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack, internet haters, tampons, her journey to Portland and her famous cover of T.I.'s "Whatever You Like." Finally, she plays two songs, one from her album Felony Flats, and the aforementioned T.I. cover. SO GOOD!
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 knows what "North to Michigan" means, so there is no need to explain it to him.
Samantha Pitchel does things for HuffPost Comedy and SXSW Comedy.