This Week in Comedy Podcasts: Ben Schwartz Sings R. Kelly and John Hodgman Hates Writing
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.
JOSH: Ben Schwartz joins journalistic odd couple Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack to discuss a hodgepodge of topics including the origin story of Kulap’s engagement to Comedy Bang Bang’s Scott Aukerman, Ben’s mismatched feet and a possible new Superman movie co-starring Home Alone‘s Macaulay Culkin and a Tomato on this week’s episode of Who Charted?. A Ben Schwartz appearance tends to inspire a jolt of conversational energy to a podcast, and this week is no different as Schwartz’s upbeat charm adds to the already contagious chemistry of the program. Schwartz performs his new R. Kelly inspired single “I Believe I Can Fry” and divulges his unique method when preparing for a Hollywood sex scene. “Whenever I have a sex scene in a TV show or movie,” Schwartz reveals, “I look them in the eyes and say this is real to me.” Kulap breaks down the week in music and film while Kremer endearingly asks Schwartz the hard hitting questions like, “What’s the running time of your movie?” and “Do you shoot most of your scenes indoors or outdoors?” Ben Schwartz plugs a few movies while Kremer plugs his admiration for mandarin salad dressing in yet another entertaining episode of Who Charted?.
Mohr Stories #170 – Christopher Titus
JAY: Lost in the temporary excitement over the US Supreme Court’s historic decision on marriage equality is something that must inevitably follow: divorce equality. This is perhaps most relevant in the Hollywood community, where stars like Jay Mohr and this week’s Mohr Stories guest; Christopher Titus, have been financially ravaged by divorce. While the podcast doesn’t linger on the subject, Mohr and Titus each recount their experiences with their exes, in what feels like veterans trading old war stories. If that doesn’t sound bad enough, Titus details his traumatic childhood, his mother’s mental/homicide issues, and the time he took on the head of a network and lost. But like a true comedy professional, Titus somehow kept his sense of humor about everything and, most importantly, survived. Although he had past successes, I believe Christopher Titus’ best days are ahead of him and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
About Last Night #55 – Michael Yo
MARC: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that About Last Night is the only podcast currently online that’s hosted by a dwarf and a Jew. Not that it matters. I’m not sure how Brad Williams and Adam Ray came together – they’re both standup comedians, so that’s probably how they met – but they bring a relentless energy to their weekly podcast on the GoCast Network. Their latest guest was Michael Yo who is best known for his TV work on everything from E! to omg! Insider on CBS and, although he’s only be hitting the comedy scene for a couple of years (plus hosts Michael Yo’s Hot Mess), he jumps into the high energy spin of About Last Night. The hosts start by plucking the low-hanging fruit of the fact Yo is half-black, half-Asian (father and mother, respectively) who own a Jewish deli in Houston, Texas. But his dad was a nuclear physicist and “super-smart” — Ray: “So he could beat you at Jeopardy and at hoop!” — and Yo credits his parents as a main source of his sense of humor. The pace keeps the conversation hopping and entertaining, plus it’s a great example of how standup comedians can handily make use of podcasting to extend their reach and find new fans.
You Made It Weird #163 – John Hodgman
ROGER: John Hodgman has sat down for lengthy, open discussions as himself without the Zeppelin-riding, “high status moron”, persona he brings to the stage in the past – particularly on A Bit of a Chat with Ken Plume andWTF – but him and Pete Holmes make such a strange pairing on the surface. It turns out that the sons of Massachusetts create excellent and funny conversation, never spending too long into a topic before it gets boring and having many subjects to yack about to hold over whenever the mustached Daily Show contributor makes his return. It turns out that the two have a lot in common, most notably a love of sharing knowledge and a compulsion to be silly. Some of the seemingly dozens of subjects discussed (in a good way) were Hodgman’s influences, what can be considered “acceptable plagiarism,” and his hatred of writing, while a running gag where You Made It Weird suddenly adopted (plagiarized) the structure of a This American Lifeepisode kept showing its face throughout Weird‘s two hour installment to bigger and bigger comedic payoffs. The influence conversation in particular gave some context to where the former literary book agent/author/commercial star/late night comedy news show correspondent/stand-up came from and how he fits into the comedy world.
improv4humans #87 – “Fake Laughing” with Maria Bamford, Mike Still, Charlie Sanders
ROGER: “I just took my first level improv class!” Maria Bamford enthused following the unprecedented cold open skit on “Fake Laughing.” Despite only taking a few proper lessons, Bamford not too surprisingly was a natural in all of the scenes, including the aforementioned sketch where a Macarthur grant was pissed away in a spectacularly wasteful manner. The episode was a bit askew in the best way possible – likely inspired by Bamford’s specific energy – with its in median res start to the proceedings and the addition of Timeout New York writer and improver Matthew Love participating as the straight man in a sketch from over the phone. Love was around to interview Besser and the other Del Close Marathon veterans about the previous installments of the legendary event, and the topic led to an improved bit about improv. From the greenest of improvisers to the ones so practiced they can draw funny material from inside the matryoshka doll, everyone was welcomed.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network:
This week a discussion of the elaborate post-production process that each episode goes through and Tim gets taken to the cleaners at the local lube shop. Also, Tom fosters a dog which of course leads to a heated discussion about Webster versus Diff’rent Strokes. The rest of the episode is pretty much just a blow by blow recounting of Tom’s fostering a dog which is later revealed to have spent almost the entire episode snotting into Tim’s sweatshirt.
Neil Casey (Saturday Night Live) drops by to bring his knowledge of Star Trek: The Next Generation into full view. Neil discusses time loops, how the originalStar Trek’s Lieutenant Uhura got advice from Martin Luther King Jr., and expresses and his great respect for theStar Trek Universe. Neil also discusses the first sketch that he got on-air at SNL, which he co-wrote with Louis CK the week of Hurricane Sandy.
In the final episode of Make Yourself Comfy with Abra Tabak, Adam Frucci (Airwolf), Molly Lloyd (Airwolf), and Charlie Todd (Improv Everywhere) join Abra to create a world where rats get crazy with whey protein, smoky treats are encouraged, and you just may be a mathemagician.
On this episode: Apptivism, a man orders a new mattress over the phone, a young woman starts a lucrative career in spam writing, the man that inspired “In The Air Tonight” is invited to a Phil Collins concert, the Joke Police conduct a pun control sting, Rusty Calvin recounts all the greats he has worked with, The Humdrum Shadow, and Airbrush Creations.
Our story this week: Melanie Hamlett was a gung-ho feminist out to pave the way for strong women everywhere, but a crippling handicap in the icy heart of the Wyoming Winter forced her latent sexual confusion to the surface in a season of self-shaming, lazy date rapists, and masturbating at the public pool.
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.