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 #137 – Jon Hamm
JAY: This week's You Made It Weird features "Internet Penis Sensation," star of Mad Men, and all-around good guy; Jon Hamm. I mention "good guy" because it is impossible to dislike Hamm. It would be easy to imagine that a handsome television star at the top of his game would be knee-deep in hookers and cocaine (hi Charlie Sheen,) but Hamm is one of the most down-to-earth celebrities in Hollywood and he continues to prove it by doing things like guesting on comedy podcasts (no offense, Pete). The podcast begins with the pair discussing their mutual love of comedy, the flawed character of Don Draper, and the virtues of curiosity and presence. They continue with their formulas for success, staying humble, and the loss of privacy that comes with celebrity. Pete and Jon then get into emotional topics, like Toy Story 3, families, and relationships. It concludes, as YMIW is wont to do, with spirituality. As he is written, Don Draper should not be a likable character, but after hearing Jon Hamm on this episode of You Made It Weird, it is easy to see why so many of us root for him. If you haven't heard Hamm speak out of character, you owe it to yourself to check out this podcast because, as Don Draper said, "People tell you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be." Somehow, even with all of his success, Jon Hamm is exactly who we want him to be.
Nerd Poker w/Brian Posehn & Friends #18 – Patton Oswalt
MARC: You can certainly jump into the latest episode of Nerd Poker, an ongoing Dungeons & Dragons game featuring Brian Posehn and fellow friends/adventurers Blaine Capatch, Ken Daly, Sarah Guzzardo, and Gerry Duggan, playing out a chronologically unwinding story under the spell of Dungeon Master Scott Robison. It just might take you a while to figure out that Duggan hasn’t been around since episode #7 when his druid Ell Ryan was killed. Or who the Collectors are or why our heroes are racing to stop a watery doom that threatens to swallow the universe. And if you’re not into the fantasy role-playing game, it's going to take awhile to get up to speed on all of that stuff, so it’s a good thing that Posehn and his posse are all comedians, actors and writers who spackle the cracks in the adventure with lots of laughs and weird references. (“This dead air brought to you by Wasabi Quik. When you want the taste of wasabi…quick!” intones Capatch when a lull suddenly appears). This particular episode features a guest appearance by comedian Patton Oswalt. Oswalt, who used to play D&D with the rest of the crew way before podcasting was even a glint in Steve Jobs’s eye, has been too busy working in show biz to join in the game. So he stops in to regale the crew with a lusty and filthy song in the tradition of several of the dwarven characters he used to play in earlier days of the game, a song which pays tribute to all the casts’ characters in turn – and is WAY too disgusting to even begin recounting in this space. Of all the shows in the realm of comedy podcasting, this has got to be one of the oddest – and the only one that is currently in the midst of a social media campaign to try and lure reputed D&D fanatic Vin Diesel into a gaming session.
New Year's Eve with Neil Hamburger #12 – "Good Going"
ROGER: New Year's Eve with Neil Hamburger is a podcast where Hamburger and co-host Mike H. ring in the New Year in some sort of parallel universe where hack and embarrassingly passe musicians (presumably written and recorded by music expert Gregg Turkington himself) perform songs that are funny for reasons that are not always apparent: the only song that was a cover of a real song – Elton John's "Piano Man" – may actually not have even been meant to be funny, which of course makes it funny. Admittedly, the show's masterpiece was their previous installment, "Hollywood Beach." With eerie straight-faced seriousness, it took place during a world apocalypse, but "Good Going" is a fine episode to begin to understand and enjoy the strangeness. A man on the street interview with a painfully honest and portentous fellow and a mini-rant about "hate comics" at the conclusion of the episode by the two hosts grounds the show a little with familiar comedy beats, just in case subtle jokes about the banality and quasi-misogyny of classic pop music doesn't land.
Pop My Culture #109 – Carla Gallo
JOSH: This was my very first episode of Pop My Culture, but after an early debate on the sexual prowess of Stephen King and a weeping Mogwai named Gizmo dishing out a little distressed gratitude, it will not be my last. Carla Gallo of Undeclared fame joins Cole and Vanessa to discuss a variety of topics including after school television, the astonishing career trajectory of Jerry O'Connell, and dental work. Gallo proceeds to discuss her experience working with Judd Apatow and reveals, quite possibly, the very best Scott Bakula anecdote that you'll hear today: When casually discussing Quantum Leap, Bakula simply refers to the show as "Quantum." That's classic Bakula. The conversational chemistry is so evident during this episode that you'll be tempted to join in the spirited game of "Wiffle Bat or Waffle Blast," but unfortunately you cannot; that technology does not currently exist.
Norm Macdonald Live #1 – Super Dave Osborne
ROB: So Norm Macdonald is back – now in video podcast form. Norm Macdonald Live dropped its first episode, featuring guest Bob “Super Dave” Einstein. They’re doing it live over at the Video Podcast Network, though you can also just download and listen, which is how I took in this promising new show. I say promising because, as excited as I am about the prospect of catching Norm Macdonald every week, there are, unsurprisingly, some kinks to work out as the show goes forward. First off is the tired “news” segment that so many podcasts seem obligated to do, though Macdonald and company quickly blow through a few news pieces with Macdonald’s trademark ironic nonchalance and move on. Also, while Super Dave is a hilarious and venerable comedian, Macdonald and his co-host Adam Eget will have to figure out how to manage guests. Super Dave really seemed like a co-host with how much he was contributing (and ribbing the show’s “young guy” Eget). But not all guests will be able to supply as much conversation or comedy as Super Dave, so Macdonald will need to settle into more hosting duties going forward. (Basically, I want more Norm Macdonald in this show). That said, Eget and Macdonald have a great awkward rapport and a mutual understanding of dry, ironic anti-comedy, which I look forward to hearing develop. One other thing, because Norm Macdonald Live incorporates more than a couple visuals into the show (so far), you’re better off catching it on YouTube.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network:
Make Yourself Comfy with Abra Tabak #15: Taco Vault
In this week’s episode, Chad Carter (The Daily Show), Will Hines (The Stepfathers), and Cathryn Mudon (I'm Too Fragile For This) join Abra to create a world where Kimmy needs castle rent, glitter lung kills, and well, shit my ass.
The Complete Guide to Everything: Urban Legends: Disney Theme Parks
This week Tim and Tom deliver a pre-taped episode recorded before their European tour which of course leads with an extensive conversation about the possibility of the episode being automatically released after their inevitable plane crash. Tim also has a lot of questions about the frail old man serving as Tom's personal butler for all of these years.
It's That Episode 59: Pat O'Brien Explores the World of Pee-Wee's Playhouse
Pat O'Brien (The Onion, America Won't Shut Up) stops by to watch the very first episode of Pee-Wee's Playouse. There will be a lot of talk about creativity, the difference between Laurence Fishburne and Morgan Freeman (hint: one of them dates his own step-granddaughter), and a Public Service Announcement about crack cocaine.
The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show: Moira "Mo" Quirk from Nickelodeon's Guts
This week on the Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin, Jeff talks to Moira "Mo" Quirk from the Nickelodeon show Guts. They talk about how she got on the show, what it was like working with Mike O'Malley, her voiceover-work after the show stopped, and if she can give us a piece of the Aggro Crag.
You Had To Be There #102: Chris Fairbanks
This week, Sara and Nikki quash a bout of podcaster's block by brainstorming new ways for Nikki to find dates. Their guest Chris Fairbanks (@chrisfairbanks, Comedy Central, truTV's World's Dumbest), a comic who graced the stage at YHTBT's first live taping, takes this theme and runs with it first through the dark depths of sexual insanity and later around the whimsies of deceptive dating and pubic quilts. To close, the three talk pee about Chris's CD, friend-of-the-'cast Myq Kaplan's existence, and Buzzfeeder @LouisPeitzman's timely tweets.
A Funny Thing: Ophira Eisenberg Scrapes the Bottom of the Sex Barrel
Our story this week: Fresh off bombing her stand up set, Ophira Eisenberg was desperate to turn a bad night into a good one. How to do it? By sleeping with the weird, sad headliner, of course. The guy "who's entire wardrobe came from a t-shirt gun." But how weird and sad can things get, really? Very. Things can get very weird and very sad. Mondays, am I right?
Left Handed Radio: 'You Don't Dance Off Red Tape'
On this episode: parents give their son the gift of accepting his gay stuff, Fauxnaise is a vegan sandwich spread that sounds like a nasal spray (but it's not), a body is taken off life support, New Yorkers defend the firehouse from Ghostbusters from becoming a Pier 1 Imports, a creepy murderer gets really desperate on the phone, Ricky is vegan now and also he's magic, Dave finds out his dad was indeed The World's Greatest Dad, an international war begins between America and Holland, and a taste of Big Mister 7 (the new flavor of Big Mister with 7 pounds of ground beef).
Roger Cormier will enjoy his two pizza vouchers for Vietnam Pizza.
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.
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.
Rob Schoon lives in Brooklyn and writes about tech, media, comedy and culture.