This Week in Podcasts: Mike White, Weird Al, and Paul F. Tompkins
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.
WTF with Marc Maron #364– Mike White
LINDSEY: Mike White is everywhere, and I couldn’t be happier. The Best Show, Twitter, and now WTF. He is so much fun to listen to, and I kind of wish he would have started this media blitz sooner. Enlightened is awesome, and I didn’t even start watching until Tom Scharpling told me to. He could have told me sooner! White chats with Maron about his religious upbringing, his gay dad, and The Amazing Race. Normal everyday stuff for a writer. Hearing him talk about Freaks and Geeks is great, even though it wasn’t really this utopia that I always imagined it to be. Plus, he’s got a great story about reaching out for help in his own way. This whole conversation should just make you realize that Mike White is a genius, and you need to watch the entirety of Enlightened.
Mohr Stories with Jay Mohr #135 – Kevin Farley
JAY: For all of his mortal weaknesses, Chris Farley seemed like he would have been the best big brother ever. This week’s Mohr Stories is a conversation between two guys who were little brothers of Chris; his biological brother Kevin and his Saturday Night Live brother Jay Mohr. Its hard to believe 15 years have gone by since Chris passed away. For those who don’t know how amazing Chris was, there is a story that when SNL writers needed a laugh, all they had to do was pen the words, “Farley enters.” Kevin Farley followed his brother into comedy and spends this podcast discussing memories of Chris and his time emerging from his brother’s sizable show business shadow. Whereas Chris was in improv guy, Kevin is focusing on stand-up comedy. He’s found a natural home opening for his brother’s old comedy partner David Spade. Farley and Mohr get into the technical side of stand up, Bill Cosby’s crooked tie, Andy (Bravo) Cohen’s terrible Eddie Murphy concert experience, The Packers, and more. This podcast is worth listening to, if only for Mohr’s crazy story involving Chris Farley, David Spade, Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger, Senator Al Franken, and an elevator full of tuxedo-clad New Yorkers. Kevin Farley is a great podcast guest. Not only is he cool with talking about his career, he loves reminiscing about his brother. He and Jay paint an intimate portrait of what it was like to really know the late comic genius because, in the immortal words of Chris Farley, “Brothers don’t shake hands. Brothers gotta hug!”
Overview with Rick Overton #9 – Weird Al Yankovic
MARC: If you don’t think you know Rick Overton, you’re wrong. He’s a comedian and actor who’s been in everything from his own stand-up specials on TV to acting roles on screens big and small, including Willow, Groundhog Day, Lost, Six Feet Under, Eight Legged Freaks, and a lot more. Now he’s adding podcasting to his litany of conquered media and, given his years and contacts in “the Biz,” it’s no surprise he’s got a lot of famous friends to help him make a splash. The latest episode features an in-depth chat with music parody king Weird Al Yankovic. He reveals that being a family man has cut into his prime writing time a bit – 10 PM through the wee hours of the morning – and he also talks to Overton about bringing down the tent on his current three-year-long show, The Alpocalypse Tour, to take a vacation and be with his family a little more. At the same time, there’s a new album brewing inside that curly-haired head of his, so it won’t be too long before more pop music icons are being skewered and lampooned to Al’s heart’s delight.
The Thrilling Adventure Hour #106 – A Beyond Belief Valentines Day
ROBERT: I first discovered the “Beyond Belief” segment of Nerdist’s Thrilling Adventure Hour at an airport and quickly burned through all of them – it’s the kind of thing that seems to end too quickly. If you’re not familiar with the TAH, it’s self-billed as “the nation’s favorite new-time podcast in the style of old-time radio” and delivers scripted stories performed with music and sound effects. It’s like a funny version of A Prairie Home Companion. The “Beyond Belief” segments star Paul F. Tompkins – who can do no wrong – and Paget Brewster as a boozy upper crust Manhattanite couple named Frank and Sadie Doyle, whose love for each other is only matched by their devotion to martinis. (They’re also psychics who solve paranormal mysteries). Most “Beyond Belief” segments are around 30 minutes, but as I said, you’d want them to be twice as long. Well, hurrah! This special Valentine’s Day episode (it came out this Monday) is a full hour of “Beyond Belief,” featuring 2 ½ (you’ll see) spooky stories. The moral of each tale is the familiar “love conquers all,” but the funny’s in the telling. I never tire of the booze humor, the ridiculous sound effect whenever they clink their glasses, Brewster’s unplaceable upper-class accent, and the way the writers play off of old-timey idioms. But some particular delights of this episode are how they toy with the fourth wall, Eban Schletter’s theremin interlude (Pod F. Tompkast fan alert!), and that they wrote a big, interactive role for Hal Lublin’s narrator. Did I mention it’s a full hour? (A technical critique – at least for me, there was no room tone in the silences, prompting me a couple times to check if my iPod had died. But get over that glitch and enjoy nevertheless).
The Education of Tim Chang #6 – Brian Stack
BRADFORD: The Education of Tim Chang is a newish podcast that started up last year and chronicles host Josh Simpson, a L.A.-based improviser, as he attempts to educate young person Tim Chang on pop culture staples that many other people born in 1991 aren’t familiar with. Past episodes have seen Chang dismissing Seinfeld, Dr. Strangelove, and the works of The Beatles for superfluous reasons, but the latest episode, focused on teaching Chang about the life and career of Chris Farley, sees the podcast taking a different direction as Tim Chang learns to appreciate Farley over the course of the episode. Simpson and Chang are joined by Conan writer Brian Stack, who came up with Chris Farley in Chicago’s improv scene in the late ’80s, and Stack shares tons of rare stories about working with and knowing Farley, like setting a fire with Farley in one of his student’s houses or watching Farley’s first SNL. Listening to these three walk through Stack’s memories of Chris Farley makes for a fun and informative hour that’s a nice celebration of the beloved comedian’s life and career for longtime fans – like Simpson and Stack – or newcomers to Farley’s work – like Tim Chang, who didn’t know Farley had passed away until 30 seconds into the episode.
Nerdist Writer’s Panel #75 – Leslye Headland
JOSH: This week Ben Blacker sat down with the writer/director of Bachelorette, Leslye Headland for an engaging, all-inclusive conversation that touched upon topics as diverse as Headland’s lack of a traditional pop culture upbringing to the rare art of creating personalized fan fiction of your own life. While living on couches and writing five plays in two years, Headland interestingly details her own personal story of the difficult balance between pursuing a writing career and having a day job. Fans of the criminally underrated television program Terriers will be pleasantly surprised as Headland fondly reminisces about her time as a staff writer for the short lived FX series and dispenses some compelling advice on how to handle creative notes from television executives. Headland candidly discussed her inspiring transition from Miramax assistant to New York City playwright to movie director to the challenges of attempting to transform her current television pilot, Assistants, into a series. Headland combines infectious energy with pragmatic advice to create an entertaining episode for all aspiring writers, as well as that rare podcast listener who also associates the collective works of director Steven Soderbergh with losing their virginity. The Nerdist Writer’s Panel with Leslye Headland provides a little something for everybody.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network:
Tim starts off by promising this will be an all karaoke episode but quickly loses interest and begins discussing the harmonies in Neil Young songs at detail instead. Instead the guys decide to do an all Tim and Tom Solve Your Problems to officially open the gates for listeners to send in their problems for the upcoming New York City and European shows in March. The first problem is a follow-up from Terrence, who previously wrote in to complain about not being able to attract girls as easily now that he works for a non-profit. Now he wants to know how to make friends as a single man in his 30s. This of course leads to a discussion of old grizzled surfer guys, the time Tim did a 360 on a boogie board and the time he almost killed himself trying to surf. Tom explains the difference between wet suits and dry suits and Tim’s parents buy a young Tim a custom-made bootleg Scottie Pippin jersey.
This week, Sara and Nikki conduct a no-nonsense all-business intro before announcing their pick for the YHTBT-designed listener-proposed website to be created on Squarespace: an entire site exclusively devoted to Talking Pee. The ladies welcome rising comic Michael Che (Best Week Ever, Letterman, soon SNL) to discuss the art of calling out an audience’s oversensitivity regarding such topics as race or bulldogs. The trio touch upon all the complications and potential depression of watching porn and end up highlighting a host of real-world gestures, scents, and compliments that do a better job of turning them on anyway. To close, everyone Talks Pee about Tim Minchin and his about-to-open Matilda, Mario Badescu and his magical skin creams, and Thai food as a whole.
Brian Faas (The Law Firm) brings over a DVD of HBO’s children’s show Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child and watches a very special story about “The Sissy Duckling,” written and starring Harvey Fierstein. Brian and Craig slog through 53 minutes of Fierstein’s grating voice and learn what it truly means to be a duck-child that puts on puppet plays and dreams about Dionne Warwick songs.
This week on the Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show, Jeff talks to Cole Stryker who wrote the books Epic Win For Anonymous about the hacktivist group Anonymous, and Hacking The Future about the value of anonymity on the internet and why we should fight to keep it.
Our story this week: Abra Tabak thought she was headed for the idyllic American summer camp experience. She’d be the fun counselor, with rugs and lamps! She wasn’t prepared for the grimness, the grief, or the cargo shorts. And yet, somehow, a year later, she found herself returning for another summer at Bummer Camp.
On this episode: a doctor has no time for whiny patients, Corbin’s new therapy goes awry, Rick Freeblehofft is back trackside after his accident, time-sensitive procedures on a spaceship are too elaborate, the police have the tennis ball gun from American Gladiators, a man yearns for sibling during a second date, Harrison Ford’s tiny earring, and opera for cretins. Performed by Adam Bozarth, Dan Chamberlain, Matt Little, Anna Rubanova, and Brett White with Sebastian Deken, Riley Soloner, and Sasheer Zamata.
Lindsey Allen lives in Austin, TX. She has perfect teeth and a nice smell. A class act, all the way.
Bradford Evans is Splitsider’s Associate Editor.
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.