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.
improv4humans – "Ask the UCB 1" - Ian Roberts
ELISE: After a weekend when much of the New York comedy community was embroiled in a debate (mostly in the form of Facebook postings) about UCB's policy of not paying its performers, Matt Besser recorded a special episode of his podcast as the first of a series of "Ask the UCB" episodes. Besser and fellow UCB-founder Ian Roberts reminisced about the early days of the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, the formation of the theater, and the founding principles of the UCB community. Calmly and without accusations, the two explained the economics of all the UCB enterprises and their philosophy of UCB as an arts collective. Though they didn't discuss the specific too much (other than Besser's estimation that it cost about a million dollars to launch the UCB East theater), both did great job of defending their reasoning for not paying performers, and from the tone of the discussion, its unlikely that the theater's policy will be changing anytime soon. There isn't much in the way of comedy in this episode, but for anyone with an interest in live comedy, the show is absolutely worth listening to.
The Long Shot #615
BRADFORD: As with last week's show, The Long Shot podcast is missing one of its four hosts, Eddie Pepitone, but the other three hosts, Sean Conroy, Amber Kenny, and Jamie Flam, have such a nice rapport with one another that they still have an exceptional show together anyways. There's no guest this week either, but that also doesn't stop it from being a delightful hour. From the discussion of Flam's management and goals for The Hollywood Improv to Conroy's story about a college road trip, it's an episode jam-packed with highlights that's a nice introduction for those unfamiliar with The Long Shot, as well as a high-energy, fun one for longtime fans.
The Adam Carolla Show 1/28 - David Alan Grier
JAY: If Adam Carolla is great at one thing, its improvisation. Started during his early Montessori school (non)education, honed by the LA Unified School District's apathy, and mastered in The Groundlings, Adam has never met a topic he can't BS his way through. In fact, he matched wits with Amherst and USC-educated Dr. Drew for years on MTV's Loveline about subjects for which Adam had no formal medical training. This is what makes him such a great podcast host. There aren't many comedians who can keep up with Adam on an improvisational level. On this week's Adam Carolla Show, he brings back favorite guest David Alan Grier. Grier is an accomplished actor, having been nominated for multiple Tony Awards for his roles in Broadway plays, but nobody brings out Grier's true improvisational talent like Carolla. This one is worth listening to for DAG's inappropriate Teddy Pendergrass R&B improv lyrics alone. Trust me. Two improv masters at the top of their game, this episode is a testament to the power of "yes, and."
The Ardent Atheist #99 - Baron Vaughn, Eliza Skinner, Danny Bevins
MARC: After catching a few episodes of Ardent Atheist, it’s clear that host Emery Emery is religiously atheist, if that’s a thing. If his guests (largely a comedian contingent, the ranks from which Emery is an alumnus) show a shred of belief, Emery starts trying to dismantle the foundations of it immediately. He’s helped in his cause by co-host Heather Henderson, an avowed skeptic (and lead singer of Penn Gillette’s NoGod Band in Las Vegas.) This week’s triumverate of guests – comedians Baron Vaughn, Eliza Skinner, and Danny Bevins – try to make it unscathed through Emery’s “What Do You Believe In?” segment. Vaughn jokes his way around it (“I believe in generalizations…”) but they all end up in Emery’s crosshairs. Religion shoulders the blame for a lot of society’s ills in this episode, although the Unitarians get a pass (“It’s mostly people chatting and eating bagels,” says Skinner.) It’s all done with a lot of laughs, but there’s a serious spine to much of the discussion, with Emery not afraid to get downright militant at times when it comes to his unbeliefs.
Comedy Bang Bang #196 - Jeff Garlin, James Adomian
BRADFORD: If you thought the passing of California public broadcasting legend Huell Howser would mean comedian James Adomian wouldn't portray him on podcasts anymore, you're wrong. On a bonus episode of Comedy Bang Bang, Adomian interrupted host Scott Aukerman's interview with fellow Earwolf Network host Jeff Garlin as the ghost of Huell Howser. Howser is much different and more foul-mouthed in the afterlife, allowing Adomian to put a funny new spin on the character. If you think it's too soon for James Adomian to be playing Huell Howser, there's a nice little message from the comedian, out of character, at the end of the episode encouraging listeners to check out Howser's work. He's always come to the impression as a fan of Howser's work, and Adomian's ending bit of sincerity is nice to here and coincides nicely with the tribute to Howser he wrote for LA Weekly a couple weeks ago.
This Week in the Splitsider Podcast Network:
You Had To Be There #95 - Michelle Wolf
This week, Sara and Nikki reveal their hidden motives for hosting a TV show: proving their tween Twitter haters wrong and meeting famous men. It's been a big day for up-and-coming guest comic Michelle Wolf, who arrives at the podcast-office straight from getting herself strategically fired from her impressive-sounding job. Michelle outlines her origin story, twisting from her involvement in the Bear Stearns collapse to her experiments with pretty much every type of comedy and eventually bringing her to today, her first day of fully committing to the craft. Your humble hosts have weathered the risk and excitement of this transition before and offering their insight on the situation leads to a frank and lively discussion about the feelings of workplace confidence and self-loathing that exist in every job everywhere. Before bouncin', the trio talks pee about Jimmy Pardo's landmark podcast Never Not Funny, Cory Cavin's rising webseries Model Wife, and Beyonce's upcomin' rip-roarin' scandal-crushin' Super Bowl show.
The Complete Guide To Everything – Super Bowl 2013
The BIG GAME is next week, and we're spending every waking moment preparing for it. After some initial confusion regarding the Super Bowl vs. Big Game Hunting, we talk about various foods found at Superbowl parties, Domino's Pizza foray into different types of food, the merits of having a party every Sunday evening, why Superman can't play in the Super Bowl, why Batman is a bad detective and debate whether or not an NFL player should be allowed to get a free pass to Disneyworld if it's possible that he was involved in a violent crime. We also announce the details of our upcoming tour in UK and Ireland and prepare to be shipwrecked on the way there. If you want more details on our tour, check out www.tcgte.com/tour.
The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show - Videogame Debate Club LIVE from New York Podfest
This week's episode of The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show is a LIVE edition from the NY Podfest. Jeff is joined by Adam Conover and Jared Logan to play Metagame (as previously heard on JRJRS), a game where all three contestants are asked the same question, and choose which of 5 different game titles they think is the best answer to that question. The one who gives the most convincing answer gets one point. To decide who makes the most compelling argument special guests are welcomed on stage to judge a round each. The guest judges are Scott Weiner, an Applause-O-Meter in the form of Scott Weiner, Patrick Cassels, Jackie Kashian AND two of the creators of Metagame John Sharp and Eric Zimmerman. The winner after the last round gets $100 to donate to a charity of their choice.
It's That Episode #51 – Aubrey Plaza's Brush with Reality TV
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. Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) introduces Craig to the most insane cooking show ever, Sweet Genius. Aubrey talks about her obsession with reality TV and the time she auditioned for a reality show about female comedians. Also, Aubrey and Craig discuss depressing movies.
Left Handed Radio - Come see the Sequel Machine's 'Die Hard 6' on February 7th
Left Handed Radio presents The Sequel Machine, a monthly live show where 22 writers of all stripes (The Onion, Fast Company, McSweeney's, UCB's Maude Night) collaborate on a sequel to one of film's biggest franchises. The catch is that the writers pen the sequel one page at a time, and only get to see the page before their own. The results are hilariously twisted and virtually no different than a real sequel. This month is Die Hard 6! New York's original super-cop John McClane must stop a number of Gruber brothers, team up with famous action movie stars, and find out who stole his penis.
A Funny Thing – Sean Canady Owes Elijah Wood an Apology – Here it Is
Our story this week: Sean Canady was a lovesick nerd in the heady, wild west days of the early internet. Looking for love in all the wrong chat rooms, he found respite in one distant and thus un-fuck-up-able relationship. But when the girl on the other end of the chat window stepped away for a few moments, her neighbor stepped in and everything changed. Sean Canady is a comedian in New York. See him co-host The Big Shrink at UCBeast Feb 26th or put him in your ears with The Sharon Spell Show podcast. He recorded his story at Oh Hey, Guys!, the storytelling open mic at UCBeast.
Bradford Evans is Splitsider's Associate Editor.
Elise Czajkowski is a freelance journalist in New York City.
Jay Kuperstein is a writer, founder of ComedyK.com, and attorney working in Washington, DC.
Marc Hershon is host of Succotash, the Comedy Podcast Podcast and author of I Hate People!