This Week in Podcasts: Chris Rock, Lewis Black, and Dane Cook
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.
You Made it Weird #135 – Dane Cook
ROB: If you’re not a fan of Dane Cook, there are a lot of things going against this week’s You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes. For one, the episode is over two hours long. Also, Holmes is a self-described big fan of Cook, and it shows. The second or third time Holmes compliments Cook on a callback – “You fuckin’ sharp shooter!” – can can get a little grating. But Holmes’s admiration makes Cook comfortable, and though some of his responses to personal questions still seem disingenuous or evasive – especially on religion – others weren’t. And surprisingly, more than Cook talking about the “pains of his childhood” (very faux-WTF), it was the discussion of fame and the business of comedy that made him a sympathetic individual – like his understandable frustration about the “comedy cops,” or those who make pronouncements on whether you’re a “real” comedian or not. My last exposure to Dane Cook was his complicated appearance on Louie, which of course was great. But for all its realism, that was still a fictional TV scene, and in some ways, Cook still came off as a symbol for the world of comedy he’s come to represent. Listening to him on You Made It Weird was different. While it won’t change any minds on his comedy – either you’re a fan or you’re not – Cook comes across as a real person. Holmes is obviously excited about interviewing Cook and is unusually bubbly and, as a result, hilarious this episode. Worth a listen for any comedy fan.
ROGER: Duncan Trussell’s mother is dying of cancer, and in the touching and enlightening “My Mom part 2,” Trussell had a one-on-one chat with her from her death bed. With the aid of oxygen, Mrs. Trussell is still capable of speaking not just with clarity, but poetically about her situation – her choice of words and the thoughts that she discussed showed where her son got his trademark curiosity and unique fascination with all things metaphysical (Duncan introduced her as a “therapist/writer/mystic”). Her philosophical beliefs helped her seem at peace throughout the conversation, which went from dealing with DirecTV needing a slew of paperwork to “consider” getting her out of her contract (excellent publicity for them), to hilariously and unexpectedly making fun of the Kardashians, to talking about finally feeling free from the obligation of setting goals that we all obsess over. Throughout the episode, Duncan attempted to keep things professional, asking follow-up questions because he was legitimately curious, although ultimately his personal attachment got to him. It’s understandable, considering who he is about to lose in the physical realm, but with the help of his podcast, and the transparency of his personal life that he exhibits there, he will never be alone.
improv4humans # 72 – Andy Daly, Stephanie Allynne, Chris Kula
LINDSEY: Andy Daly has been busy filming his new show (which will be the best show ever because it has to be), so he hasn’t been as prominent in the podcast world as of late. This episode was worth it just to listen to his voice. It’s also fun to hear him say “Hitler tea” and “penis through the heart.” Maybe it would be funny to hear anyone say those words. Plus he talks about a time a few drunk friends tickled him in the back of a cab that sounds delightful and terrible. (Andy Daly’s Tickle Fest is definitely a show I would watch.) Stephanie Allynne and Chris Kula are the other guests this week, and they talk about stealing swimsuit editions of Sports Illustrated and working at Blockbuster for a week, normal adult stuff. We learn that blue money can get you some great discounts, and that orange vests are the only thing standing in the way of your parent shooting you. The most important segment, though, is the prequel to the teapot story. Not only do we get to hear Besser’s reaction to hearing about it for the first time, but we also get to hear Daly’s delight in telling him about the anti-Semitic artist. Pretty great episode. And “moist” was added to the banned words list! Finally, some justice.
Jordan, Jesse, GO #267 – String Pudding with Helen Zaltzman
ELISE: One of my all time favorite podcasters and people, Helen Zaltzman of Britain’s Answer Me This!, joins Jordan and Jesse for a cultural exchange, discussing pond-hopping sitcoms and the true meaning of pudding. Helen also regales with stories of the people she met on her train trip from Austin to Los Angeles, including an abandoning father, some (maybe) train sex enthusiasts, and the future leader of America’s socialist revolution. The trio then delve into David Lynch, dads with chainsaws, and MaxFun’s sexy new giveaway. Helen’s quick wit fits perfectly into the improv-heavy JJGo, and the episode is a great ad for the must-listen Answer Me This!
The Long Shot Podcast #621 – The “I Just Want To Buy The Monitor!” Episode with Dan Harmon
JOSH: Sean Conroy, Jamie Flam, and Amber Kenny made podcast history by finally revealing the true identity of Jack the Ripper, but in 21st century news the mercurial Dan Harmon dropped by The Long Shot to provide his entertaining combination of humor and hyper self-awareness. There’s no such thing as a boring Dan Harmon interview. What makes Harmon such an intriguing guest is his earnest unpredictability; you never know which Dan Harmon will show up. I find Harmon to be the most interesting when he’s conversing without a net and formulating his thoughts on the fly. His appearance on The Long Shot was a perfect example of that scenario. After the awkwardly hilarious Jamie Flam ended the first segment with one of the best/worst “Daylight Shavings” jokes in podcast history, Harmon volunteered an… interesting story involving a Sharpie and an orifice. From there the conversation turns introspective as Harmon openly discusses a peculiar encounter with an Apple store employee that offers some captivating insight into the mind of Dan Harmon. In the final moments of this week’s episode, Harmon is asked to impart some advice to the audience, and in typical Dan Harmon fashion he doesn’t disappoint: “Life is a chain of mistakes and each one brings you closer to the perfection that is death, so don’t look forward that much to getting it right.” While that statement may seem ostensibly negative, Harmon defends it as a positive, once again proving that there’s no such thing as a boring Dan Harmon interview.
The Champs – Chris Rock
BRADFORD: We’re in an era in which Tom Hanks and Will Ferrell have both appeared on podcasts, so it’s not as shocking when a big star drops by to record one, but hearing Chris Rock on The Champs this week is still a special treat. This isn’t Rock’s podcast debut – heavy-hitters Marc Maron and Alec Baldwin both had him on first – but it does wind up being an in-depth chat that covers Rock’s entire life and career and his thoughts on comedy too. There’s a lot of great stuff in here about Chris Rock’s childhood, his stand-up act when he was on SNL (“I did well using 12% of my power”), and how seeing Martin Lawrence changed the way he did comedy (“Everything black [in comedy] in the last whatever – 15, 20 years – is because of Martin”). If you want to hear Rock weigh in on why he has no interest in self-releasing a stand-up special or how he decides which topics to discuss in his act, this is the podcast for you.
MARC: I had to go back to pick up Part 1 of this fascinating interview between veteran comedian Paul Mecurio and even more veteran comedian Lewis Black. Black’s not really so much a recluse as he’s not often called on to talk about his formative years and his perspective on comedy. A lot of that comes out here. The two men are friends, so that combined with their stand-up experiences really lets them get deep into the mechanics of writing (Black – to Mecurio’s surprise – cops to only jotting down notes and NOT writing out his bits), the early days of college which led Black into writing scripts and books, and the pretty-much-by-accident way that they each discovered their own style. Mecurio, formerly a lawyer, started out by submitting jokes to Jay Leno. Black, on the other hand, cut his teeth on listening to comedy albums (Nichols and May, Carlin, Bruce), early TV (Steve Allen and his cadre of comedians) and watching the usual suspects of comedy idols coming out of the 60’s and 70’s (Cosby, Newhart, Berman). The conversation is laid back and leisurely – not even the appearance of a mouse running across the floor (where did they record this thing?) gets much of a jolt out of either party.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network:
It’s That Episode BONUS! Justin Tyler Watches Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Goonies’ Video
Justin Tyler (Comic Book Club) watches the two-part music video for Cyndi Lauper’s “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough.” Listen for tons of wrestlers, tons of yelling, tons of rubber bands on faces and a jaw dropping cameo from Steven Spielberg himself.
The Complete Guide to Everything: Subway Etiquette
This week, seasoned subway riders Tim and Tom discuss the most appropriate behavior when traveling on the NYC subway system. Answering questions like “When is it appropriate to shame someone on the internet for sitting in a seat designated for the handicapped?” (which sends Tim into a rage), “When is it appropriate to bring furniture onto the subway?” and “Should I bring a large uncovered pot of soup onto the train?” we leave no stone unturned.
You Had To Be There #101: Moshe Kasher
This week, Sara and Nikki declassify the events surrounding last week’s torrent of celebrity encounters, codenamed “Zero Dark Flirty”. Comic Moshe Kasher(@moshekasher, The Champs podcast) barely makes it past MTV’s team of New World Order security guards in time to plug his shows at Carolines with Natasha Leggero this very weekend and reminisce about his last barfight. Moshe, whose dark and hilarious memoir Kasher in the Ryewas published last year, has been cutting his way through the jungle of the LA TV biz and he comes armed with tales of treacherous table-reads and wise words for tacking rampant self-doubt. The gang talks a little pee about Nikki’s documented love for Fitzdog Radio, Sara’s documented love for Nikki, and Moshe’s dreams coming true vis-à-vis those Carolines shows (which, by the way, you should go to).
It’s That Episode 58: Luke Cunningham Defines Relationships Through Suits
Luke Cunningham (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon) watches the series two season finale of USA Network’s Suits. Luke explains how Suits has played a big role in his last two relationships and defends the show with all his might. Craig and Luke also discuss Game of Thrones and watching young males “twerk” online.
The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show: Nintendo Hotline Game Counselor Erich Blattner
This week on the Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show, Jeff talks to Erich Blattner, a former Nintendo Hotline Game Counselor. The Nintendo Hotline existed back in the late 80’s/early 90’s, for people to call in and get help if they were stuck on a Nintendo game. They talk about how he got the job, what it was like to work as a game counselor, how well-versed in video games you had to be to do the job properly and at the end they also talk about what it’s like to be a video game tester, a job that Erich Blattner had after he stopped being a game counselor.
A Funny Thing: Adam Wade and Peter Aguero Tag Team Their Pants
Our story this week: The narratorial tag team of Adam Wade and Peter Aguero form the beast with two butts to double down on the old number two. It’s a poop story, okay? Two poop stories. Remember a couple of weeks ago when we had the story of comedian wrestling with the urge to contextualize her own abuse? Well, now we’re doing poop stories.
Lindsey Allen lives in Austin, TX. She has perfect teeth and a nice smell. A class act, all the way.
Roger Cormier lost you at “bowel movement.”
Elise Czajkowski is a freelance journalist in New York City.
Bradford Evans is Splitsider’s Associate Editor.
Rob Schoon lives in Brooklyn and writes about tech, media, comedy and culture.
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.