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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 comedy.
Harmontown #24 - Harmoncountry: Phoenix, AZ
ROGER: Harmontown decided to leave their comfy home of Los Angeles's Meltdown Comics to traverse this great land for a twenty-day tour, nobly releasing a podcast of each show the following afternoon. On the first night of the tour in Phoenix, Dan Harmon entertained the audience by obsessing over not being good enough and wondering out loud why the tour was happening in the first place. It all started when Harmon and co-host Jeff Davis heard that 40% of the audience had never heard the podcast and that everyone was charged 22 American dollars, an amount that scared Harmon, who had never performed at a 22-dollar show before. Harmon went into self-loathing mode after a few of his raps were not to the former Community showrunner's satisfaction. It wasn't justified, since the show was as funny as always, with new tour wrinkles like Davis and Harmon's comically blatant pandering to the local crowd ("You love cacti!") and the show standards: the so-juvenile-it's-acceptable raps about bedding people's mothers, and the fun and creative ongoing Dungeons and Dragons game (I've never played, but the podcast single-handedly convinced me that it could be a lot of fun to play). Still, Harmon insisted at one point that he wished he were dead and that the audience throw things at him (provided they weren't heavy). It was a little awkward, always entertaining, but never uncomfortable, and even heartwarming, on account of the audience talking back to tell Harmon that he was loved.
You Made It Weird #117 - Todd Glass
BRADFORD: Todd Glass, host of another Nerdist podcast The Todd Glass Show, finally makes his You Made It Weird debut, falling in the middle of Pete Holmes's funk. Despite the shows' many differences, Glass Show and YMIW share a unique ability to hit both sides of the tonal spectrum, often jumping from the silliest bits to deep, serious discussions, so it's nice to see the two hosts who have an affinity for both the light and the dark go head-to-head on Holmes's turf. The episode was dropped on the one-year anniversary of Glass coming out of the closet on Marc Maron's podcast, and the topic does come up a little bit, but Holmes and Glass's conversation covers a lot of different topics, from vegetarianism to offensive words to anger issues to why you always bring a wild card on a camping trip. Whether you're a fan of Todd Glass or Pete Holmes or both, it's a delight to hear two of the best podcast hosts have a long, two-and-a-half-hour chat.
Before You Were Funny #10 - Rob Delaney, Matt Walsh, Casey Wilson
SAMANTHA: After a bit of a hiatus, Before You Were Funny – the podcast that presents early works from your favorite comics – is back with an amaaaazing episode featuring Funniest Person on Twitter Rob Delaney, UCB co-founder / Veep co-star Matt Walsh, and Happy Endings’ Casey Wilson. It goes without saying that anything bringing this cast together is going to be great, but when the scripts they’re reading include “You and Me,” a Woody Allen-esque scene from Wilson (which includes the stage direction “trying to hang”); “Hotel De Fois Gras,” a French-ish farce, and dark classroom tale “Mister Podinsky” (which I’m sure I’m spelling incorrectly), from one of Walsh’s first sketch shows; “Donut or Car” from hosts Justin Michael and Jacob Reed; and “Monster Daughter” and “To Tell the Truth,” written by Wilson’s dad while she was on SNL, things get kind of crazy. Highlights include but are definitely not limited to: Walsh’s Jake Johnson impression, a man named “Monsieur de Caca Peepee,” a pastry-related gameshow, and a new segment featuring mind blowing before-he-was-funny stand up from Delaney (which includes a joke about dads that made me literally cry with laughter).
MARC: There are some podcasts that simply fall off the map – we never know where they went or why. In the case of This Week With Larry Miller, he’s the one who fell, literally, last April and struck his head on a wall when he did. It was a freak accident that landed him in the hospital where he had to be put into a medically-induced coma to reduce cranial swelling. He’s had to go through a rigorous rehabilitation to get his speech and motor skills back and now, finally, he’s back podcasting again! If you’re not familiar with Miller, he’s one of the best storyteller comedians in the business and while his show often features his tales of being a young comic, life on the road, or on the set of one of the numerous movies and TV shows he’s done, this first episode back is all about the accident and what followed. It’s touching, funny and very, very human (not to mention very, very true to Miller’s style) and well-worth a listen to welcome this comic veteran back to the podcast game.
The Joe Rogan Experience #310 – Neil deGrasse Tyson
JAY: Logic meets wonder and worlds collide as noted astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson joins conspiracy aficionado Joe Rogan on this week's Joe Rogan Experience, which feels like a time machine back to college. Rogan plays the part of stoner student and Tyson holds court as Professor Emeritus. Some debunked conspiracies include: The Mayan Calendar, The Moon Landing "Hoax," and Chemtrails. If that doesn't intrigue you, they discuss planets made completely of diamonds, space/time in human perception, asteroid impacts, evolution, the multiverse(s), hypernovae, Simulation Theory, and so much more. Neil deGrasse Tyson is a worthy successor to Carl Sagan in the field of science education. I could give you several other reasons to listen to this podcast, but there are literally billions and billions more. Check it out.
Left Handed Radio: Sequel Machine—'Hobbit 4'
Every month, 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: Hobbit 4. Performed by: Adam Bozarth, Dan Chamberlain, Matt Little, Anna Rubanova, Brett White, John Timothy, and Jeremy Bent. Script produced by Brett White and Matt Little.
You Had To Be There #93: Bridey Elliott
This week, Sara and Nikki revisit their contributions to this year's edition of 50 First Jokes and discuss whether all the flack Nikki got for her cancer joke was deserved or not. Their guest Bridey Elliott (Twitter, Funny or Die) talks about her projects with big sister Abby and her childhood with dad Chris. The gaggle of girls remember a world pre-Google when the only ways a kid could learn about sex were useless school lectures and There's Something About Mary. For the rest of the episode, the ladies show no remorse about skipping classic literature or panning meandering movies. Eventually they suggest alternatives of their own by talking pee about a wacky Christian flick, a wild insult show, and an insane old movie about the perils of comedy and extra limbs.
Everyone's getting the flu. Don't leave your home. If you must go out into the world, don't shake any hands or talk to anyone who isn't wearing a surgical mask. And for Pete's sake, don't kiss anyone on the mouth until at least April. Luckily Tim and Tom have managed to avoid getting sick so far. This week we discuss the flu epidemic, getting a flu shot (including Tim's experience with a bewitching pharmacist and an unruly customer) and telling your doctor to shut up. We also resurrect the segment "A Particular Type of A**hole You Didn't Know Existed Until The New York Times Pointed Them Out To You" and disagree about who the titular a**hole is in this situation. And in a new installment of "Tim and Tom Solve Your Problems" we suspect the young lady seeking our advice is not being completely honest with us.
The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show: 'Portlandia's Costumes, Props, and Sets
This week on the Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show, Jeff is joined by the production designer, Tyler Robinson, and the costume designer, Amanda Needham, for Portlandia. In this episode they talk about what Portlandia did for Portland, the challenges and joys of working on the show, and how much of the show is based on reality. "It started as this Portland theme where everything was kind of Portland based, but I think as it's moved on in the seasons, other cities has definitely identified with it and they see themselves in it as well. I think it has gone a little bit beyond just being sketches about Portland and more about just alternatives. It's kind of hipstery, but it's also an anchor for all of these interesting characters, that at this point, I feel could be from just about anywhere." — Tyler Robinson on what Portlandia is based on. "They definitely have like at least 12 cats, but I can't figure out if they live together or not. It's like I just want them to be together I think." — Amanda Needham's take on The Lesbian Bookstore Couple.
It's That Episode 49: Mike Lawrence Jaws About 'Street Sharks'
On "It's That Episode" Craig Rowin (UCB Theatre) invites guests over to watch any episode of any TV show they want. They discuss the episode and other crap. This week, Mike Lawrence (Conan, Nerd of Mouth) stops by to check out the '90s Ninja Turtles knock-off Street Sharks. Mike and Craig have a FIN-tastic time talking about how FISHY this show is. You'd have to be HAMMERHEADED not to listen.
A Funny Thing: Adam Wade Tells Dan Marino Where to Stick It
Our story this week: Adam Wade, friend of the show, fearless speaker of truth to power, idolized in his youth the great Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino. Years later, working for a pittance to get over a hard spot, Adam found himself in the company of The Great Marino himself. How does it go? What happens when we face our heroes in the flesh? Listen to find out! Spolier alert: Ace Ventura quotes ahead. Adam Wade is a MOTH GrandSlam champion a dozen times over and you can see him telling stories all over the world, especially New York. Catch him hosting his own storytelling show, Tales of the Cosmos at the UCBeast, or see him on January 30th in Nights of Our Lives at the UCB Chelsea.
Bradford Evans is Splitsider's Associate Editor.
Roger Cormier throws his water skins at the two floating columns.
Samantha Pitchel writes about and watches comedy in Austin and Los Angeles.