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: Before You Were Funny #3 – Ben Garant, Colton Dunn, Alex Fernie
Billing itself as "the most entertainingly bad sketch show you’ve never seen nor heard," Before You Were Funny is a new podcast from LA-based sketch duo Tremendosaur (Justin Michael and Jacob Reed), in which the pair assembles a panel of accomplished comedy writers each month and stages a live reading of their worst material from their early days. This time around, Michael and Reed have a member of one of the all-time great sketch groups (The State’s Ben Garant) and two talented guys who are newer to the world of pro comedy (Key & Peele writer Colton Dunn and Funny or Die’s Alex Fernie). All of the sketches the writers pulled from their personal vaults are amusing in one way or another, with the group’s riffing on their ineptitude making for some of the funniest moments. From a rejected The State sketch that seems to have ended the writing partnership of Ben Garant and Michael Ian Black to Fernie, Michael, and Reed’s bumpy college sketches to Colton Dunn’s “Your Mom” joke-laden Star Trek parody (which actually landed him a job on MADtv), the episode scores a lot of laughs from the group committing hard to the readings of these sloppy pieces of comedy and having a blast tearing them apart together.
Jay: Ari Shaffir's Skeptic Tank #73: Love Scam with Sarah Tiana
In this era of political faux outrage and "cooked" reality conflict, it's increasingly rare to see someone's true feelings broadcast to the world. That is not the case on this week's Skeptic Tank. Comedian and writer for Comedy Central's The Burn, Sarah Tiana lays it all out there and even though this is technically a comedy podcast, there's nothing funny about her situation. Stay with me. To set it up, Sarah goes above and beyond the call of duty and flies overseas to entertain the troops in war zones. She met a guy on one of these trips who told her he was in the Special Forces and they really hit it off. They began a relationship, but due to his military duty most of their conversations happened via Skype, email, and text. Over the next few months, they fell in love and Sarah began to think he was "the one." Then things began to unravel. He started getting shady. Promises were broken, texts went unanswered, etc. Finally, when he said he was coming back to America and didn't meet up with her, she investigated him. What she found out was as mind-blowing as it is heartbreaking. And the crazy part is how recently this all occurred. This story is incredibly personal and Sarah is brave for telling it. This episode of The Skeptic Tank is as emotionally raw as it gets and while sad, it's ultimately uplifting because of Tiana's choice on how to handle the situation. Give it a listen. It will make you want to reach through the internet and give her a hug.
Jesse: WTF with Marc Maron #306 – Julie Klausner
Even in interviews that Marc doesn't make about himself, the guest is able to bring out a different part of his personality. With Julie that part of his personality was SUPER JEWISH. Maybe it was just that a cold caused Marc to sound more nasal than usual, but there was a Jewishness to his voice that previously was only relegated to Andy Kindler episodes. Accordingly, the conversation wavered between sounding like a Woody Allen movie and some recent Seders of mine. Midway through the interview, they each proclaimed to have innate sense of who the person was because of some sort of New York metro area Jewish shorthand. Partially as a result of their comfort, they were able to have a completely well-argued and fun discussion of gender roles and sex norms. Also, they were able to agree that all penguins are lesbians.
Lindsey: Ronna and Beverly #33 – John Ross Bowie
When I told our friend Jesse Fox that I was going to write about Ronna and Beverly this week he quickly sent an email back saying “funny sexy tension” and I laughed out loud and then knew that I had made the right choice. It is with his validation that I can safely say that this episode of the R&B podcast is a super treat for people who want to hear which version of Michael Keaton Beverly is attracted to and a little too much about an ice cream scooper who lives in Martha’s Vineyard named Bucky. Bev really is the star this week, doling out advice like “southwest is not your virginity” and that sometimes sexual assault can be complimentary. Add to this the fact that guest John Ross Bowie is Julie Denbo’s real-life husband and lines like “let your anger out while making love” become ten times funnier and more awkward. Funny, sexy tension, indeed. While I have never seen an episode of “Big Bang” because I am a Community girl through and through, I'm am pleased that he is well-known among that crowd and appreciated by a wide range of fans. He deserves it. He also deserves to be on a better show, but I’m sure his time will come. For now we can look forward to him being one of the most handsome nerds on television, because they don't let real ugly people on TV. No one wants that.
Marc: RISK! #341 “Ladies & Gentlemen”
The more comedy podcasts you listen to, the more different varieties you begin to discover. RISK! is a storytelling flavor of comedy podcaster, but different as different from The Moth as The Moth is different from Story Worthy. The brainkid of Kevin Allison, a graduate of The State, the episodes are often constructed from various versions of the live stage versions of RISK! Normally a half dozen stories around a common theme from different performers, Allison says this episode is EXTRA RISK! because it’s just two stories, revolving around women dating men and vice versa. Melinda Hill relates a tale of a textual interaction with a creepy dude she met via Match.com, where each message back and forth makes their non-relationship more and more uncomfortable. (Ultimately, Hill used the exchange as the basis for an episode in her web series, Romantic Encounters, on Funny Or Die.) Dwayne Perkins’ story is face-to-face and no less increasingly creepy the closer he and an unnamed comedy club waitress get to sealing the deal after years of an ongoing flirtation. The stories are not just real, but definitely demonstrate a degree of risk for those involved. Performed for a live audience, they’re also both very entertaining.
Roger: Doug Loves Movies - Paul Rudd, Jon Hamm, Morgan Spurlock, Mike Birbiglia, John Mulaney
Paul Rudd does not appear on podcasts very often, but when he does, he proves that there is no broadcast medium that can escape from his rapier wit and effervescent charm. In his first ever appearance on Doug Loves Movies, Rudd was initially passive and a bit over his head, needing the rules to Doug Benson's various games to be explained to him. He subsequently lost hard to the other four entertainers on the bill. All hope seemed lost until the final segment of the night – the Leonard Maltin game. This was when our hero pulled a third act transformation into the brightest star of them all, managing a dominating winning performance that culminated in guessing the name of a movie with a rare -1 names (Rudd had to not only name the movie but the first actor in the credits.) Once his victory had been confirmed, I found myself genuinely happy for the man, even though he has no idea who I am, is a little bit more handsome than myself, and most likely has a few more dollar bills in his wallet. Before the Hero's Journey was completed, the rest of the guests all got some equal positive air time, thanks to Benson controlling the pace. John Mulaney, the other DLM rookie in this episode, had the funniest lines in particular in the first half of the show when a scheduling conflict that endangered Mulaney's chances of sitting in for the entire podcast made him the center of a running gag. It resulted in the SNL writer reading out texts he was supposedly sending to various celebrities and his pillow to buy himself more time at the Gramercy Theater. It was a memorable episode, one that proves that if any podcast can handle excessive star power, it is this one.
Samantha: The Fogelnest Files #1 – Chris Gethard, Julie Klausner
Thanks first to public access, and now to podcasting, Jake Fogelnest is sort of like the super cool friend everyone wishes they had. His new show, The Fogelnest Files, is the audio equivalent of hanging out in someone's basement while they screen their favorite VHS tapes, which is exactly as great as it sounds. Each month, Fogelnest, who's an expert on pretty much any pop culture topic imaginable, will go through his own archives (and the internets) to find amazing hidden treasures to screen on air. Recorded during the CBGB Festival, the first episode is appropriately punk themed, and our host has found a handful of vintage videos for guests Julie Klausner and Chris Gethard to mock / reminisce about; the episode references two of my favorite things (Paul F. Tompkins' "Go Ask Alice" bit and GG Allin), and includes clips of punk kids on daytime TV, and a hard-to-find SNL performance from Fear, among other gems. Though waiting a whole month for the next installment is going to be rough, it'll be worth it. (You can read more about the show in Splitsider's interview with Fogelnest.)
This Week in the Splitsider Podcast Network:
A Funny Thing #23 –Mike Guild "To the Dogs"
Do you like dogs? Before you answer, let Mike Guild tell you what he's seen. While the rest of the world coos over and preens their puppies, their showdogs, their loyal canine friends, Mike has pierced the furry veil of illusion and witnessed man's best friend at its malicious, violent, throwing-babies-into-traffic worst. Also, dog prison.
It's That Episode #30 – Michael Rowan/'They Came from Outer Space'
Michael Rowin (L Magazine, Criterion Collection, Craig's brother) stops by to watch They Came From Outer Space, an early 90s TV show about two teenage fraternal twin aliens from the planet Crouton. Craig and Michael come face to face with a TV show that only they remember and reminisce about all the TV they watched as kids.
The Complete Guide To Everything: Fears: Elevators
This week in one of their rare times Tim and Tom actually saw each other outside the podcast, they found themselves stuck inside a berserk elevator that refused to let them out for 30 minutes, all the while toying with their fear of imminent death. This week Tom also discusses the many previously unknown widows he has, a frank discussion on the non-sexual feats that "doggy-style" should refer to and how easy it is to eat 40 Chicken McNuggets everyday when you're 17 years old. We also mark the first in many installments of a new segment titled 'Tom Explains Fifty Shades of Grey to Tim'.
The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show – Fred Graver
This week Jeff interview Fred Graver about: What it was like writing for Letterman in the 80's when he was still finding his voice; The challenges of writing a Choose Your Own Adventure novel (#35 – Journey to Stonehenge, pictured above); The difficulty of writing for In Living Color and the joy of writing for Cheers; How he ended up spending two years in the 90's at Disney brainstorming the future of television with computer greats like Marvin Minsky and Alan Kay (Wikipedia them, they're impressive); How editing The National Lampoon was kinda his first real job; What it's like to run programming for VH1 and how he came up with the idea for Best Week Ever; What he's currently doing for Twitter; And, believe it or not, more.
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.
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 texts to his pillow that he lives minute to minute, and is available for brunch tomorrow.
Samantha Pitchel does things for HuffPost Comedy and SXSW Comedy.