This Week in Podcasts: A ‘Comedy Bang Bang’ Anniversary, ‘You Made it Weird,’ and ‘Wits’
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.
Comedy Bang Bang #218 – The 4th Anniversary Extravaganza
JOSH: Womp it up! It’s a comedy bonanza this week as Comedy Bang Bang celebrates its four year podcast-a-versary! Old favorites like Traci Rearden, Mike the Janitor and the pride of Marina del Rey, Marissa Wompler, join CBB stalwarts David Wain and Jason Mantzoukas for an all-star episode packed with forbidden sexual tension and terminally ill imaginary friends. Amid Mike the Janitor’s personal rendition of the musical Cats, teenage frenemies Marissa Wompler and Traci Rearden compete in an old school dating game to procure a prom date. Who to choose? David Wain promises to buy his date a latex dress with an exposed midriff area to prominently display the belly button, while Mike the Janitor’s guarantee of elephant transportation and an organic Whole Foods dress is also alluring. Who do the ladies choose? The answer is an unprecedented first in Comedy Bang Bang prom voting history! Later, the peculiarly intimate Bachelor Brothers drop by to promote their record label and make Scott an offer that could potentially change the future of Earwolf forever. All this and more on an extended episode of Comedy Bang Bang!
You Made It Weird #149 – Jim Gaffigan
JAY: This week on You Made It Weird, Pete Holmes catches up with Jim Gaffigan (at Austin’s Moontower Comedy and Oddity Fest) to promote his new book, Dad is Fat. The podcast begins with the pair talking about how strange a breed comedians are. The discussion dovetails effortlessly into the deeper topic of the fluidity of one’s life goals. Gaffigan then theorizes that it is better to never peak as a performer and that once a comedian is “cool,” the clock officially begins running out on his popularity. The episode concludes with Gaffigan’s opinions on writing a “good” comedy book, the challenges and joys of fatherhood, and his take on why people become comedians. The good ones, Holmes asserts, have the simple dream of eventually hanging out with their heroes. You can tell Holmes is getting that chance right now. In a time when so many are dissatisfied with the state of affairs, it is nice to hear a couple of people who truly appreciate their current situation.
Wits #24 – Michael Ian Black, AC Newman
ROGER: When Hüsker Dü covered the classic Byrds song “Eight Miles High,” it was the first time that casual listeners were able to understand what the band was trying to do, because they were able to compare and contrast the clean sounding, popular song to the distorted, faster version the Dü put out. Suddenly the Minnesota band’s sound made sense and was more coherent and pleasing to the ear, which helped paved the way for their fanbase to multiply. The Wits recurring sketch “Mad Men Show” is John Moe’s “Eight Miles High” – when a Mad Man says “I have a problem with my brain feelings,” and when the Peggy Olson explains that she now works at her “own idea factory” (spoiler), a casual listener can understand how Moe and his writers Ben Acker, Ben Blacker, Alison Agosti, and Lauren McGuire manipulate English to make it incredibly funny, mostly with taking things to their literal extreme, ignoring the definite article, while utilizing proper and effective sketch comedy beats. Michael Ian Black fit right into the show that works like a warped and much funnier Prairie Home Companion, where he continued to prove he’s at his best when playing anyone with any authority, notably as a dad telling his son that babies really do come from storks, or as a snob-hating slob cop. Black and Newman’s duet on a theme song for Michael Ian Black: Frontier Dentist, and the ad copy for Hemingway Pizza are two of the funnier things you will hear from a podcast this year.
The Thrilling Adventure Hour #116: Beyond Belief – “The Devil You Know”
ROB: The Thrilling Adventure Hour – old-timey radio in a new-timey podcast – brings the best scripted comedy to podcastland. Especially the segment “Beyond Belief,” starring Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster as a married pair of boozy, necromancing detectives. This week’s episode features Tom Lennon as an aggressively ’40s noir detective and a reprise of James Urbaniak’s role as Nightmares the Clown, which would be reason enough to listen. But the real stars of the episode are Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, creators and writers of the show. Going beyond the great puns and witty wordplay you’ve come to expect from TAH, this episode is particularly playful with its narrative, in ways that bring to mind highfalutin terms like “post-modern,” “meta-narrative,” and “deconstruction.” Or you could just call it incredibly fun, clever, surprising, and hilarious. It’s highly recommended: some of the smartest comedy I’ve heard in a while.
Who Charted? #127 – Live from Bridgetown with Peter Serafinowicz and Robert Popper
JENNY: On this special episode of Who Charted recorded live from the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, Kulap Vilaysack and Howard Kremer host some funny Brits Peter Serafinowicz and Robert Popper, who together made the mock BBC documentary series Look Around You in 2002 and whose collective credits include Spaced, Star Wars, Friday Night Dinner, and the recently-announced NTSF:SD:SUV:: movie. The gang takes on a particularly tough chart: Billboard’s Top New Age Albums, and they try to figure out just where the piano comes into The Piano Guys. Later during the movie charts, Popper and Serafinowicz try out their best camera and sediment-themed humor. A tired and confused Howard admits to not understanding a lot of the guests’ Britishisms (at one point, the group just pronounces “banana” repeatedly to one another, and some of the best moments come from Serafinowicz and Popper over-explaining some of their punchlines or correcting Kulap when she cuts off a recording of their joke). Kremer comes back strong, though, with some Dragon Boy Suede raps towards the end of the episode. He also performs all of the chart themes live, so you get to hear a crowd of Chartists singing along to “moooo-vies.” It’s fun to hear that enthusiasm for something normally recorded with a few people in a quiet studio.
The Edge with Mark Thompson – Caprice Crane
MARC: The Edge is a pretty new podcast hosted by a Los Angeles news, weather, and voiceover guy Mark Thompson, who you might not immediately associate with comedy. He used to sit in with my improv group in San Francisco, though, so I know he loves comedy and is funny. He’s only a little over a dozen episodes in so far and, along with winglady Heather Ankeny, Thompson’s already bagged some cool interviews. The streak continues with Caprice Crane, who is not only an author and TV writer but also the offspring of famous 50’s and 60’s broadcaster Les Crane and even more recognizable mom Tina Louise, AKA Ginger from Gilligan’s Island. Crane’s quick on her feet and also loaded with stories about growing up as a Hollywood kid – including the insight that they didn’t know kids anywhere else were different. “I just kind of assumed that everyone’s mom and dad worked in TV, the movies or on the radio,” remembers Crane. As an extra bonus, Thompson invited former Freaks & Geeks staffer J. Elvis Weinstein to sit in on the conversation, which shines even more light on things when the topic turns to the business of the TV show writers’ room.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network:
This week, Sara and Nikki relive their surreal evening spent amongst random celebrities and teenage screams. Comedy power couple Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan (Comedy Central, Twitter & Twitter) make their triumphant return to the podcast and speculate about the pitfalls of Taylor-level fame. Jim’s new book, Dad is Fat, drops next week, but you should preorder a copynow just in case. Written with Jeannie and inspired by their five kids, the book is an astonishingly hilarious and oppressively addicting collection of essays on fatherhood. For the rest of the hour, the gang discusses collaborating with a writing partner, treating stand-up as therapy, and a rare definition of the word “galley”.
This week we’re talking fancy restaurants, but what conversation about fancy restaurants would be complete without first looking back at Prince’s most erotic songs from early in his career? No conversation, that’s what. After that we jump right into fancy restaurants starting with our favorite restauranteur, Gordon Ramsay. Not only is he the world’s foremost authority on whether food is raw or not, he has a number of restaurants Tom has been to which Tim claims are not fancy despite never having been himself.
Conner O’Malley (UCB’s The Law Firm) drops by to show his perverse fandom ofEntourage by watching that episode where Turtle gets those shoes. Conner and Craig discuss how everyone know’s Turtle’s shoe size, why no TV show can properly capture the shooting of a TV show and of course some talk about Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
Roger Cormier was sent down here by Jazzy Steve.
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.