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.
How Was Your Week? #102 – Peter Grosz, Craig Bierko
JAMES: Julie went off again on all things Jenny McCarthy, whom she repeatedly calls a child murderer. She implored listeners to go to JennyMcCarthyBodyCount.com, according to which, 1080 people have died since 2007 due voluntary refusal of vaccination. As they say, it can be hard to be funny while accusing someone of killing a thousand kids, but, you know, sometimes she sticks to being thoughtful and provocative. She did ask listeners to "imagine if every '90s hooker had as much influence over children’s lives as Jenny McCarthy," which I'd never imagined before. Things got lighter, though, when she talked to the wonderful Peter Grosz – who wrote for The Colbert Report for three years and is one of the men in the car with TJ Jagodowski in the improvised Sonic commercials – about coming up in Chicago with Seth Meyers (who apparently had a pony tail when they were living in Amsterdam doing Boom Chicago) and his decision to move back to New York after a stint in LA. Grosz is working on a pilot with Seth and his brother Josh right now, but he also had a lot of insight about how disparities in success and wealth between the friends he came up with comes to paint too many of their relationships – especially in LA. And then finally, Julie also spoke with Craig Bierko about how he has a physically large, beautiful head and how he immediately knew that Matthew Perry was, at age 22, the funniest person he'd ever met.
Best Show Gems – Beatles Expert Milt Mortner
ROGER: In this classic Scharpling & Wurster bit, Jon Wurster played "Beatles Milt" Mortner, a deranged author of several Beatles books that claims facts about the seminal rock group that are either ridiculous (Pete Best was kicked out of the group for being a spy) or so absurd that it sadly could possibly be true, knowing how bad the group's behavior towards each other was by the end of the sixties (all four Beatles insisted on playing the same instrument at the same time on each recording track of each song on a never released album). Like with most of their bits, the fun comes from the slow reveal of how insane Wurster's character truly is, which in Mortner's case is apparent in the sick lengths he would go to get exclusive information on the Beatles (pretending to be a doctor to get a death bed interview with a Hard Day's Night projectionist), and how he doesn't focus his imagination strictly on the Fab 4 (Nixon talked about Tommy during the missing 18 minutes). And of course, Mortner weirdly is obsessed with getting respect from Scharpling, which the straight man never will provide. The call back from the then over two years old "Bill from Consolidated Cardboard Can't Keep His Story Straight" bit about unusual celebrity signings was all the more rewarding.
Comedy Bang Bang #201 – Jon Glaser and Matt Besser
ROBERT: UHHHH…. ah-YEAH. Jon Glaser is finally on Comedy Bang Bang. Being one of the top sketch and improv comedians in New York, it’s surprising that Glaser has never appeared on the premier improv west coast podcast. Appearing alongside Matt Besser (playing retiring Pope Benedict the XVI), Glaser settled right in. Some of my favorite parts of Comedy Bang Bang are when guests bullshit, facilitated by Aukerman’s leading questions. And Glaser and Aukerman struck BS gold early on, discussing Glaser’s final appearance on Parks and Recreation, which included a fantastical ending scene, which Besser referred to as a snuff sitcom. Besser’s Pope, or Pun-tificate, was a good addition to the show, and Glaser later got involved with some role-playing between “the Pope” and Aukerman, which turned out to be my favorite disruptive part of the show. All in all, a very strong episode, especially considering that first-time guests sometimes take a little while to get comfortable. But Glaser is a natural choice for the program (I’d like to see Jon Benjamin sometime soon, too), and a great way, as he says, to “Bust a cherry on a whole new hundo of Bang Bangs.”
RJ & Bley Suck At Girls #24: We’re Terrible People
JOSH: This week I elected to sample a new podcast; the intriguingly titled RJ & Bley Suck At Girls. If I’m intensely engaged in a particular podcast I have a tendency to pause it and listen to the second half later in the evening; a little treat as if to say, “Congratulations on making it through the day, Josh!” Frame of reference for how much I enjoyed RJ & Bley Suck At Girls: I listened to it in three separate installments. The eponymous title leaves little doubt as to the subject of the podcast, but what makes this week’s episode so enjoyable is the candor in which the gang carefully deconstructs the state of contemporary dating. Episode 24 breaks down a visit to a Match.com event in which a group of singles gather together to watch the Nicholas Sparks future classic Safe Haven. The result? Take all your preconceived notions about online dating and say, "Yep, pretty much." This episode chronicles the wonderfully horrible experience of searching for love by dispensing a hilariously honest assessment of dating that comedically oscillates between harsh criticism and poignantly universal inadequacies. Terrible people? Doubtful. Entertaining podcast? Definitely.
Mohr Stories with Jay Mohr #133 – Jenny Mollen
JAY: For those who don't recognize Jenny Mollen's name from the 2004 blockbuster, D.E.B.S, you may know her as half of the team behind the Twitter handle: @JennyandTeets. Teets is her dog. Jenny writes most of their funny tweets. Jay Mohr gets a rare interview with the funny Twitter user at her home in the hills. Mollen and Mohr begin the episode with a discussion about Twitter, Jenny's method, and the great female Twitter-ers. Then she gets deep, speaking about her paranoia about her neighbor, her former eating disorders, and marriage. Next, Mollen explains her desire to have a baby, which conflicts with her disdain for "mommy culture," and her family history. The podcast concludes with Jenny's tale about stalking her husband's ex. This Mohr Stories is reminiscent of Paul Gilmartin's Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast, in which people (often comedians,) talk about their mental illness. It all begs the question: does Hollywood make people crazy, or do crazy (with all due respect) people seek out careers in Hollywood? Whatever the answer, we are lucky to get a glimpse into the comic mind of Jenny Mollen.
The Air-Raid Podcast #135 – Kurt Braunohler
MARC: What do you do to get decent guests on your podcasts if you’re not Alec Baldwin or Marc Maron and don’t live in New York or Los Angeles? Get your sound together and be persistent. Seems to work for Aaron Roden, whose Air-Raid Podcast orginates from Seattle. He hasn’t nailed super-heavyweight guests yet but, with the likes of Dana Gould and Pete Holmes from the comedy world, and musicians such as John Roderick and Eric Early, Roden’s showing that podcasters don’t have to be somebody in order to get somebody. The latest installment features his interview with comedian Kurt Braunohler. The host of BUNK! on IFC was in Seattle to record his first comedy album and Roden snagged him. And even though Braunohler’s not even sure if he’s on a radio show or a podcast in the early going, he’s affable and funny. He also left a few openings for Roden to dig a little deeper – family, religion, drugs – but the host opts to keep things on the lighter side. Roden comes across as very knowledgeable about the Northwest music scene and plays some great bumper music, often from local bands.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network:
The Complete Guide To Everything: Meteors
This week we talk about the latest terrifying meteor and asteroid events that made us all think that we might possibly die suddenly and without warning at any time. We also discuss NASA's starting lack of telescopes, the difference between an asteroid and a meteor and why Fred Flintstone was kind of a jerk.
Also, Tim tells a tale of an aggressive truck driver who might be tracking him down to do him harm, we announce a New York live show (March 1st at UCB East) and we hear from someone on the "inside" at McDonald's who we plan to get special information from.
It's That Episode 54: 'Are You Afraid of The Dark?' David Young Answers, "Yes"
David Young (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon) stops by to watch an episode ofAre You Afraid of the Dark? that terrified him as a kid. David confronts his fear as Craig admits to being too scared as a kid to watch SNICK (Saturday Night Nickelodeon). Listen as David and Craig revisit their childhood TV watching while Craig subtly introduces David to the world of Scientology.
You Had To Be There #98: Andrew W.K.
This week, Sara and Nikki react live on-mic to their first taste of the Suit & Tie video(or at least to the best bits, until all that wacky jumping business). After considering to which drug Vine is most similar, the ladies share some dark thoughts and weird feelings that follow them through life and the causes and goals that help them cope. Looking like a badass angel from a half-remembered dream (probably involving cereal), rocker,proprietor, and professional partierAndrew W.K. suddenly appears to give one crazy-entertaining interview. Besides discussing the many merits of the Internet and his first-rate Twitter, Andrew riffs on awesome childhood parties of yore, mind-blowing vision boards, and the only Party Tip he ever regrets endorsing.
The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show: NYU Video Game Professor in Game Design Eric Zimmerman
This week on the Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin show, Jeff talks to Eric Zimmerman, who is an NYU professor at the NYU Gamecenter teaching game design.
Eric tells the story of how he got the job, how you teach game design, and how much of the homework that the students get is just playing video games. They also talk about the state of gaming, which of the recently released games that have really good game design and if Microsoft Flight Simulator can be categorized as a game or only as a simulation.
A Funny Thing: Joe Mande Loses His Religion and a Whole Lot More
Our story this week: Ambivalent Jew, Joe Mande (Kroll Show, Parks and Rec, Best Week Ever) was looking for God in all the wrong places, including a "test passover." But a confrontation and plea for help from another Jewish man in need leads Joe to wager all his belief and most of his money on one act of blind trust. Now if you'll excuse me I have to go buy matzoh for my wife.
Make Yourself Comfy with Abra Tabak #13: Mr. Whole Wheat Bread
In this week’s episode of "Make Yourself Comfy with Abra Tabak" Patrick O'Brien (Fambly), Craig Rowin (It's That Episode), and Sasheer Zamata (Doppelganger) join Abra to create a world where babies better shape up or ship out, Ray is SAG’ing in there, and you better not stop skating nor hating on the rink.
Roger Cormier played background keytar for the Alan Parsons Project on their 1977 tour.
James Hamblin is a writer and health editor at The Atlantic.
Marc Hershon is host of Succotash, the Comedy Podcast Podcast and author of I Hate People!
Jay Kuperstein is a writer, founder of ComedyK.com, and attorney working in Washington, DC.
Robert Schoon is living in Brooklyn, soon to graduate j-school, and very employable. He writes about media, culture, and comedy.
Josh Sorokach is a comedy writer living in NYC who was once referred to as a "Poor Man's Joshua Jackson" while on a date.