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.
Radiolab — TJ & Dave
JAMES: Radiolab isn't typically a comedy podcast, but this short episode was all about Chicago-based improvisers T.J. & Dave (T.J. Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi). They are the scariest improvisers ever, as many people know. If you haven't been to iO Chicago to see them, or to their monthly show at Barrow Street in New York, go. There's also a documentary about them called Trust Us, This Is All Made Up (made by Alex Karpovsky of Girls fame, notably), so named because so many people who see the show really doubt it could be improvised. But watching improv on a screen, even great people like when Bravo picked up ASSSSCAT, it never totally translates. Neither does listening to it on a podcast, but this episode of Radiolab does give a unique angle into their heads. The most interesting takeaway was that they tend to visualize the show as constantly happening on the stage, even when they're not on it. They see themselves as just picking it up when they go on. That kind of trippy, insider-y talk of improv as a sort of religious experience can quickly become excrutiating to listen to, but if you're genuinely moved by what TJ & Dave can do, it's easy to hang on every bit of wisdom they're willing to share.
Comedy Bang Bang #211 — April Fools'
ROB: This week’s Comedy Bang Bang is the April Fools’ episode, but there are no tricks in the episode other than the unexpected, delightful introduction of a new character – performed by Jon Hamm! I’ll keep from spoiling it, but let’s just say that it turns out one of co-host Nick Kroll’s characters has a twin brother. For long-time fans of the show, it’s fun to see Jon Hamm’s evolution from celebrity guest and fan of comedy to now being comfortable enough to get in on CBB’s character work himself. And for fans of Don Draper, it’ll expose you to a side of Hamm you’ve never encountered before. This is a no-games episode, but it’s the kind of episode that holds its weight just on the strength of great BS conversations between three experienced comedians.
Mike and Tom Eat Snacks #79 — Popcorn, Indiana
JOSH: Mike and Tom turn back the clock this week to discover what happens when snacking collides with the Wild West. "We're just two cowboys who rode fast and hard," explains Tom Cavanagh as he and co-host Michael Ian Black reminisce about their brief stint as cattle herders and fondly divulge the details behind the untimely death of their cantankerous western chef "Cookie." Eventually our Snackologists redirect their collective expertise to solve a few popcorn related problems; specifically the question, “How much popcorn is too much popcorn?” The most enjoyable episodes of Mike and Tom Eat Snacks emerge when the snack remains secondary to the duos infectious camaraderie. Their uncanny ability to engage in an enthralling conversation about the geographical inconsistencies of Minnesota while still showing proper reverence for reviewing the snack at hand is why I dare say they produce the very best snack related podcast in the game today.
Overview with Rick Overton #13 — Guest Dom Irrera & Surprise Guest Robin Williams
MARC: This installment of Rick Overton’s Overview is a pretty amazing 45 minutes, starting as it does with Overton and guest Dom Irrera riffing out a conversation at Greenblatt’s Deli after both doing a set next door at the Laugh Factory in LA. Not four minutes into the show, with Irrera reminiscing about he, Rick and the rest of the New York Improvisation crew doing sets at midnight, Robin Williams breezes in and joins them at their table. It’s not the rapid-fire version of Williams, either. Because of his comfort level around comics from the same graduating class like Overton and Irrera, he’s very conversational, with a number of side jokes and random character ramblings by all three guys along the way. They talk about their education (Williams went to Harvey Mudd University at one point), the various addictions they’ve dabbled with (Williams talked about his once-upon-a-time friendship with Scotch whiskey, while Overton cops to a latching onto red wine for a while because he read it was supposed to be heart-healthy.) Irrera comes off as the most balanced of the trio, claiming that booze, coke and the rest never really spoke to him. The nature of comedy and why sex jokes will likely always work carries them for awhile. As they close off their conversation by talking about Bobcat Goldthwait and his movies, one realizes that it’s over way too fast, even though there’s very little in their chat that you needed to hear.
The Dana Gould Hour — "Murder, Etc."
ROGER: It shouldn't be a surprise that an episode mostly about serial killers is the most focused and amusing installment of The Dana Gould Hour that has ever graced the podcast interwebs. Gould has never shied away from his seemingly two biggest fascinations: mass murderers and unseemly old school showbiz stories, so of course and thankfully, "Murder, Etc." included hilarious off-the-cuff impressions of Jimmy Stewart demanding cocaine and Larry Fine calmly revealing then attempting to justify a severed head in his refrigerator. Both of the roundtable discussions – one with writer and "murder enthusiast" Michelle McNamara and comedians Matt Weinhold and Matt Braunger, and another featuring comedians Monika Scott and Amber Tozer – were entertainingly educational and open to some particularly funny one liners, with Braunger in particular seeming to fit right in with his cheerfully macabre sense of humor. Gould towards the end of the show wondered out loud how William Shatner ended up a part of a discussion, but like how Dr. Whiskers: Cat Alcoholic came to fruition, it's best not to question it and just enjoy the ride.
You Made It Weird #139 — Bert Kreischer
JAY: If you were drafting a fantasy team of fun comedians to invite to a party, two of the top picks would definitely be Pete Holmes and Bert Kreischer. It is lucky for us then, that these two up and coming comedy giants teamed up on this week's You Made It Weird. But don't take my word for it; the networks love these two as well. Holmes will soon be hosting a new late night show under the Conan O'Brien banner and Kreischer is on Team Travel Channel. They begin the podcast by discussing their experiences with the (in)famous Judy Carter stand up comedy book and their beginnings in comedy. It quickly (d)evolves into a stream of consciousness melange of dreams, memories, impressions, and the greatest two laughs in podcasting. Once you listen to this episode of You Made It Weird, you will want to spend a night hanging out with (or at least enjoying the comedy stylings of) Pete Holmes and Bert Kreischer. Therefore, this podcast accomplishes exactly what every comedy podcast sets out to do.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network:
It's That Episode BONUS! Pee-Wee on the Premiere of Joan Rivers' Late Show
Pat O'Brien watches Pee-Wee Herman on the debut episode of the short-lived The Late Show with Joan Rivers. Pee-Wee dishes about his sex life and Pat talks about the magical moment when Pee-Wee inspired him to break free from training wheels.
The Complete Guide To Everything: Easter
This week, despite our stated policy of not discussing anything even vaguely religious, we talk about Easter, which apparently is a very important Christian holiday. Mostly we just talk about candy, including Tom's dangerous addiction to Cadbury Eggs. We also talk about a large scale, highly competitive Easter egg hunt from Tom's childhood, coordinated by a local creepy elderly couple.
It's That Episode: Anthony Atamanuik & Murder, She Wrote
Anthony Atamanuik (30 Rock, Death By Roo Roo) returns to watch an unbelievable episode of Murder, She Wrote involving a laptop bludgeoning on the set of a Friends knock-off called Buds.
You Had To Be There #103: Sue Costello
This week, Sara and Nikki are personally invited to a Taylor Swift gig out in Jersey and neither snow nor rain nor violent food poisoning will stay these girls frommeeting Swift herself. Comic and birthday girl Sue Costello (@suecostello, The Fighter, TV everything) takes the ladies through her one-woman show I Wasn't Trying To Be Funny for which she's currently raising money through Kickstarter (help her out!). The show covers Sue's entire comedic career thus far, from the highs of being discovered at an elderly bringer show to the improbably unlucky lows of jealous mentors and hindering home runs, and how through it all she's maintained her trademark candor and zeal.
A Funny Thing: Michael Hartney Gets a Lesson in Sketch Comedy From Rosie O'Donnell
Our story this week: Comedian Michael Hartney was a fresh-faced writer's assistant eager to get a foot in the door of the burgeoning gay and lesbian sketch comedy television industry. Instead, he got a master class on whom not to fuck with. Rosie O'Donnell, thats whom. Positive energy!
Make Yourself Comfy with Abra Tabak #16: Margies & Barbies
In this week’s episode, members of Grandma’s Ashes Lydia Hensler (Ladies Night), Dru Johnston (Bellevue), and Winston Noel (Hear Me Out) join Abra to find out what happens after hours at Petco, how to hang up a party line, and the status of Moses' pants barn.
James Hamblin is a writer and health editor at The Atlantic.
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.
Marc Hershon is host of Succotash, the Comedy Podcast Podcast and author of I Hate People!
Roger Cormier only has three stink sacks.
Jay Kuperstein is a writer, founder of ComedyK.com, and attorney working in Washington, DC.