This Week in Comedy Podcasts: Dan Harmon Calls Robert Greenblatt “Darth Vader,” and Paul F. Tompkins Discusses Scientology
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: Never was there a louder cheer from the citizens of Harmontown then when their mayor said “I got my job back,” and as if to prove his claim from early in the episode that he hadn’t changed and “I learned nothing,” Dan Harmon said things that only Dan Harmon can apparently get away with: comparing NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt to Darth Vader and ridiculing the unbelievably lame billboards for the quickly-canceled NBC series Do No Harm come to mind. It’s going to be fun to hear the show while Harmon works on Community (if more episodes don’t get suddenly “lost” like the previous week’s installment), but the highlight of “I’m Like Very Science” was the reveal that comptroller Jeff Davis is psychic. Thank God for recurring guest star Kumail Nanjiani: his constant bewilderment and endless questioning of Davis’s claims were on behalf of every listener and person in the town hall meeting, which was necessary since Harmon has been friends with Davis for so long that he did not find any of the former Whose Line is it Anyway? co-star’s stories to be strange. The conversation took up the entire second half of the show and gave us some funny impromptu bits about the subject, as well as some sweet, inspiring stories about Davis and Harmon’s friendship back when they were both struggling in Los Angeles.
MARC: While regular fans of WTR hosts Dave Anthony and Greg Behrendt will doubtless enjoy this installment (they tend to love everything these two do), others may have a little trouble hanging on for the ride. The hosts and guest Greg Proops seem bent on driving the Wayback Machine to the place all three came from: the San Francisco comedy scene anywhere from the mid-80’s through the mid-90’s. Having done my time back there too (primarily as a booker and improviser), I know the comics they’re telling tales about (Rob Rubin, Bob Sarlatte, Jose Simon, and a collection of Bay Area unforgettables), plus the gigs they got high driving to…and from. Give it a chance, strangers to that scene, and you’ll likely end up enjoying it too because these are three raconteurs-in-training who are spinning tales of a time gone by and doing it in the grand tradition of artists that know how to get some laughs.
JAY: When it comes to promoting a project, comedy podcasts have officially taken the reins from radio shows. If you don’t believe me, just count how many podcasts Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg appeared on this week (at least four). And while I am always interested to hear about new art, my favorite episodes occur when nobody has anything to promote and we get down to real life. That is exactly what happened on this week’s Mohr Stories. This installment could be titled, “Show Biz Middle-Class,” as the three actors discuss grinding out a living in Hollywood after hitting a home run with their first movie roles (Mohr in Jerry Maguire, Biggs and Thomas in American Pie). Each was equally talented in his respective part, so why does one get a couple of television pilots, one work on Broadway and with Woody Allen, and one have to make his own indie projects? This podcast just goes to show how tenuous acting careers can be. Even when you make it, you haven’t made it. But I guess if you really need something to do, you can always start a podcast.
JOSH: This week, podcast stalwart Paul F. Tompkins drops by How Did This Get Made? to discuss After Earth, starring Will and Jaden Smith. After addressing the odd amount of professional formality between married co-hosts Paul Scheer and June Diane Raphael, the group dissect the use of “future accents,” Scientology themes, and a possible future movie where humans and giant birds join forces to fight lions. Scheer delivers the funniest line of the podcast when questioning Jaden Smith’s character’s age: “I think he was on the verge of basically being kicked out of his house and being sent to live with this aunt and uncle in Bel-Air.” No movie review would be complete without receiving the analysis of respected astronaut Buzz Aldrin. “Not realistic because in space you don’t get that much noise,” Aldrin critiqued. Fair point. Sadly, no word yet on John Glenn’s opinion.
ROBERT: If most of your exposure to Seth Rogen in recent years have been his talk show appearances, you’d mostly get a one-dimensional picture of a comedic actor that smokes a lot of weed. Marc Maron, of course, isn’t interested in talking about the obvious with his guests, and while he doesn’t coax a sensitive sob story this episode, we get to dive deep into longtime friends and writing partners Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Marijuana isn’t even mentioned for the first hour of the show. Both Rogen and Golberg are Canadian Jews who met in bar mitzvah class and started in comedy as young teenagers. Rogen talks about his time as a fourteen year old standup comic in Vancouver, while writing the rough draft of Superbad – “One of the only movies about virgins obsessed with having sex, written by virgins obsessed with having sex” – with Goldberg after school. You’ll also hear details about other joint ventures by the two friends, what went wrong with Green Hornet, and how Goldberg is getting out of the poutine food truck game, but Maron asks relatively little about This Is The End, the duo’s first co-directing credit, which is in theaters now. Judd Apatow is usually credited with creating the “bromance” movie genre, but hearing how close Rogen and Golberg are, in their lives, personal history, and interactions on mic – plus the fact that they both helped write and/or executive produce a lot of those movies – you get an inkling of where the bromance started.
You Made It Weird #159 – Live from Bloomington, Indiana (Tig Notaro, Maria Bamford, John Roy, Al Jackson, Stewart Huff)
ELISE: You Made It Weird is one of the few podcasts that really works as both a live show and a studio sit-down, so it’s always a treat to hear another guest-packed festival episode. For the first half, Tig Notaro and Maria Bamford are their usual hysterical selves while touching on deeper subjects like religion, more than earning their three standing ovations. In the second half, Pete is joined by John Roy, Al Jackson, and Stewart Huff, where the comedy-centric conversation drifts to white comics working in black clubs and whether Luke Perry might do the podcast. Despite a mild concussion (his favorite excuse for everything) and Tig’s accusation that she’s “never been interviewed by someone less interested”, Holmes is noticeably getting better as a live interviewer. It’s a skill he’ll obviously need for his new TBS talk show, which is scheduled to begin taping in August and where hopefully he will be able to recreate the weird, wandering, wonderful conversations of YMIW.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network:
Lisa Kleinman moved to New York for the big dreams, the bright lights, and the infinite possibilities. She ended up with a secret life, pregnant legs, and a roommate named White Shoes. It’s the best things in life we never see coming.
In this week’s episode, Doug Moe (Man v Child), Zhubin Parang (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart), & Natasha Rothwell (The Curfew) join Abra to create a world where gnomes heckle, cakes get made, but dicks don’t get touched at strip clubs, & Jackson Pollock steals scholarships.
This week Jeff and Jon Gabrus take a look back at season 3 of Game of Thrones, subplot by subplot. The events of the entire season are discussed, so don’t listen unless you are caught up. Events from the books that have not yet made it into the TV show also come up, but only in the second half of the show after a clear warning.
Megan Neuringer (Best Week Ever) travels back to 1994 to check out the most emotional episode of My So Called Life. Find out why the episode is as notable as the Game of Thrones Red Wedding (without any spoilers) and listen as Megan and Craig create the female equivalent of Jeff Foxworthy for all your relationship advice.
Roger Cormier‘s prose is like an eagle lost in the wind.
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.