This Week in Podcasts: Mitch Hurwitz, ‘From Justin to Kelly,’ and the Return of ‘Superego’
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.
ROGER: It says a lot that despite featuring a slew of well-known comedians, I don’t even think about whose voice is behind each character until a repeated listen of a Superego episode: the shows and its universe are usually so rich, unique and absorbing. In its first installment of 2013, the sketch podcast kicked off the fun with their established bit of Cylon Jim and Cylon Phil, but mostly featured new sketches, including “The New English Dictionary,” which is as great an example as any of how Superego takes a ball peen hammer to the English language, destroys it beyond recognition, and frantically attempts to glue it back together into some reasonable, cracked-up facsimile. The Thomas Lennon-led “God’s Crazy Monsters!” sounds like a The State sketch that was abandoned for being a little too dark for television, and the same goes for “Bishop Aaron Phillips Shemnon,” which concludes with Lennon’s character uttering the almost David Milchian line, “And then you create a million witches inside each other,” resulting in the laughter of all of the bit’s participants. Sometimes the cast is as surprised as we are.
By the Way, In Conversation with Jeff Garlin #5 – Mitch Hurwitz
ROB: Though Jeff Garlin has been releasing his new podcast, By The Way, In Conversation with Jeff Garlin, since the beginning of this year, I hadn’t given it a listen until this week’s episode featuring Mitch Hurwitz. The idea for the show is basic – Jeff Garlin has conversations with big stars or creators of comedy in front of an audience. I love hearing Jeff Garlin on Comedy Bang Bang (his laugh is infectious), but after WTF, another one-on-one comedy talk show didn’t strike me as a must-hear podcast. At least this episode is. Mitch Hurwitz (creator of Arrested Development) and Garlin sit down for a chat about Arrested Development, the comedy business, and mostly nothing in particular. The two are old friends, so much of the conversation revolves around things they’ve done together before, but they don’t leave the audience behind during any exchanges. And being old friends, they have an interesting comedic chemistry. Hurwitz, as evidenced by his multi-layer sitcom, is a structure freak, while Garlin is chaotic in style: for example, at one point the conversation lags, so Hurwitz starts interviewing Garlin, until Garlin calls him out on it and rips any semblance of structure out again. Later, Hurwitz bets that Garlin could lie down and fall asleep on stage if he felt good about it in the moment. Between these comedic yin-yang shenanigans, you’ll hear some interesting tidbits from Hurwitz about Netflix and behind the scenes at Arrested Development, though no hints about the upcoming season. Hilarious, interesting, and organic – if every episode of By The Way is like this one, I expect it to be a hit this year.
How Did This Get Made? #57 – From Justin to Kelly with Nick Kroll
JOSH: This week, How Did This Get Made? reviewed the American Idol-inspired musical From Justin to Kelly. Live from the Largo theater, the hosts spend the first half of the podcast hashing out proper meet-cute bathroom etiquette, Kelly Clarkson’s wardrobe, and Justin Guarini’s…everything. The second half revolves around audience participation as well as a, let’s call it interesting, edition of the always-captivating fan favorite segment, “A Second Opinion” during which we learn that this movie is so universally reviled that the IMDB description may have been hacked, yet nobody seems to care enough to fix it. Jason Mantzoukas, in a performance worthy of being highlighted on Podcast SportsCenter, had the perfect summation of From Justin to Kelly: “If you told me that this movie was written and fully produced by al-Qaeda in an effort to destroy our will to live, I would believe you.”
MARC: I don’t know about you, but, for me, it’s delightful getting to hear comedians who just started podcasting who have always been fun to watch be (what you thought) were themselves on stage. Because that is, to a large degree, a character you’re seeing. Very quickly, though, after a few episodes of a podcast, there’s a flavor of comedian who strips it all down and you just know you’re hearing them. The real them. Bill Burr’s one. Greg Fitzsimmons is another. And now Jake Johannsen. A lot of his episodes are just him, spinning yarns, reading stats and monologizing. But he was at the most recent Aspen Comedy Festival (a shell of what it used to be) where he sat down with fellow comic Nick Griffin to get unexpectedly real about Griffin’s recent appearance on Letterman. What was so special about the comedian’s ninth outing on the show? He got through his third joke and he drew a blank. Zoned. Didn’t know where he was going next. Editing covers the awkward moment for the viewer, but for Griffin he just can’t seem to shake the fact he stumbled. “I don’t even want to be talking about this,” he tells Johannsen but they get into it anyway. It’s a revealing look at – as the host puts it – something that happens to every performer sometimes. Although you might think it should be cathartic, one can’t helping feeling at the close of the chat on JakeThis that Griffin still wishes he hadn’t gone there.
Bertcast #12 – Adam Richman, Joey “Coco” Diaz, Tom Segura, John Moore
JAY: For anyone who doesn’t know Bert Kreischer, here are the Cliff’s Notes: Rolling Stone magazine named him the top partier at the top party school (Florida State) in the country, Van Wilder was loosely based on him, he may have unintentionally robbed a train full of his classmates with the Russian mob, and he is a stand-up comedian and host of the Travel Channel’s Trip Flip. No matter what you know of Bert, his mere presence is one of pure joy and he has brought that joy to the podcasting world. This episode of Bertcast includes comedians Joey “Coco” Diaz (a legend in his own right) and Tom Segura, as well as the producer of The Joe Schmo Show, John Moore. But the main attraction of this podcast is Kreischer’s fellow Travel Channel host – Adam Richman of Man vs. Food. It is easy to dismiss Richman as an idiot who eats massive amounts of food, but he’s actually a deep, deep fellow, showing a wide range of interests from Hip Hop, to the English Premier League, to Brooklyn. The fact that we get Joey Diaz outlaw tales, Tom Segura’s overdose story, and Joe Schmo insights are amazing bonus content. Plus, we hear the world’s greatest Magic Johnson talk show improv! This episode of Bertcast is filled with guys who followed their hearts and found success. When you hear them speak, its easy to see why.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network:
This week we talk about Martial Arts, because we’ve both been endlessly fascinated by people punching and kicking each other. First, we recap our NYC live show and our experience at an open mic comedy night in which the comedian is a horrible racist. Then Tim talks about a Judo championship match he is attending because of the prospect of free beer, and Tom reminisces about being a teenager and studying the art of karate in a strip mall dojo alongside a sad man in his 30s. Then, we solve a problem from a listener who is dating a man considerably older than her.
Gavin Speiller (Death By Roo Roo) brings over an episode of the early nineties cartoon Batman: The Animated Series. Gavin and Craig discuss crying during Halloween while dressed as batman characters, talk about why The Penguin is too fat to escape by helicopter-umbrellas, and converse about the time Johnny Cash was almost murdered by an ostrich.
Our story this week: something a little different. For a year now, we’ve been bringing you stories that we thought were funny, many of which came from disasters, traumatic events in the lives of the storytellers. It’s in many of our natures and especially in the nature of the kind of person who gets up on the stage to tell these stories for a room full of strangers, to laugh at the macabre and the dark, to smile and snark in spite of terror. For a comedian this irreverence is her first and prime instinct. A few weeks ago, comedian Julia Weideman took the stage at the UCB East in New York and wrestled that instinct to the ground. When the dust cleared, we had a story, one she had never told before, with no punch lines, no clever similes, no witty rejoinders, and yet it was a story we knew we had to share with you.
In this week’s episode, it’s a mini CREEP reunion when Anthony Atamanuik (Death By Roo Roo), Silvija Ozols (The Stepfathers), & Ryan Karels (Grandma’s Ashes) join Abra to create a world where Little Roger haunts and makes a frittata, clubs need a VIPleat entrance, & diner waitresses don’t give a shit.
Roger Cormier played background keytar for the Alan Parsons Project on their 1977 tour.
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.