This Week in Comedy Podcasts: Paul F. Tompkins, John Oliver, and More
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.
MARC: I’ve been enjoying John Oliver filling in for the movie-directing Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show since the beginning of June, but was curious how – with the onerous workload of hosting a daily TV show – he was simultaneously coming across as the weekly co-host of podcasting’s The Bugle. So I downloaded the latest episode and was delighted to find that he and co-host Andy Zaltzman are as topical and funny as ever. The Daily Show gig now being old news, this week the lads are crowing over Oliver’s voice work as Vanity Smurf in the just-released Smurfs 2 (still unseen by Oliver at press time) and then jumping into one of their favorite go-to subjects, former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and his ongoing legal woes. Much like The Daily Show (but with a more international focus), The Bugle chomps into deep news stories with relish, the hosts’ sole goal to then lambast and lampoon them mercilessly. Such Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who has been accused of rigging the recent election. The only indication that Oliver may be a bit pressed for time these days is the length of recent shows, which rarely go over a half hour – still ample time to educate yourself beyond what the US mainstream news seems capable of delivering while getting some great laughs.
Sklarboro Country #158 – Michael Blieden
ROGER: Occasionally, it pays to check out a podcast with a guest you’ve never heard of. Julie Klausner and James Adomian appeared in this week’s fun edition of Sklarbro County, but Friday’s original recipe, nation-sized episode from Friday was the nice surprise. Michael Blieden has had a long, interesting career in comedy that few people are aware of, providing him with plenty of fascinating stories. One day, he was reviewing music videos on the Craig Kilborn version of The Daily Show. The next, he became one of the most sought-after directors in comedy, working behind the camera for a lot of Zach Galifianakis’s work, co-creating and directing The Comedians of Comedy, and directing parodies for Jimmy Fallon. The following segment focused on the guest’s time interviewing a man whose real name he never learned to talk about fixing elections and assorted government conspiracies, and moving to Austin to try to get close to a story about men creating a potentially world-changing energy source. Both of the brothers Sklar have heard these stories before, so they knew exactly what to ask and when to let Bleiden elaborate, the enthusiasm for hearing them unwavering and kind of infectious.
JOSH: “That got weird in four seconds.” An assortment of all-star comedians drop by the theoretical garage in Austin for this jam-packed episode of WTF. There are so many entertaining moments on this week’s episode. Maria Bamford discussing her aunt’s drug dealer ex-boyfriend named Lips, Janeane Garofalo “Janeane Garofaloing” it up like there’s no tomorrow, the smooth, docile tones of Todd Barry, everything that flows from Jim Norton’s mouth, but the show reaches its apex of hilarity once Michael Ian Black is introduced. Instantly, and I mean instantly in the most literal sense of the word, these two resume their contentious relationship and embark upon an entertaining game of verbal passive-aggressive ping pong. “Don’t you fucking groan when I take a shot at this smug fuck,” Maron somewhat facetiously declares to the crowd. The two longtime acquaintances seem legitimately incapable of having a sincere conversation with each other. Every sentence is fraught with layers upon layers of condescending and remarkably clever subtext buried beneath all the beguiling banter. Do the two comics bury the hatchet during their conversation in Austin? I’ll let this Maron jab directed at Black answer that question. “As you get older your face is going to drop and your jaw is gonna grow; your face is going to become bigger and more moonlike and you’re going to be ugly and stupid.”
The Adam Carolla Show – Bryan Cranston and Monica Mehta
JAY: Sometimes it is easy to forget, but The Adam Carolla Show is the “face” that launched a thousand pirate ships. It wasn’t the first comedy podcast, but it was the first huge comedy podcast. This episode is just the latest example of its excellence. It wouldn’t be ACS without a couple of Carolla rants. Today’s include Dr. Drew leaving Carolla’s peanuts open and speeding tickets. The first guest is none other than Breaking Bad‘s Walter White: Bryan Cranston, who has a big announcement about Carolla’s crowd-funded movie project: Road Hard. Next up is CNBC’s Monica Mehta. She discusses the current dismal economic outlook of the country. The podcast concludes with Alison’s news, highlighted by the 50th anniversary of the cassette tape.
Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown Series 4, Episode 3 – Washing Up with Paul F. Tompkins
ELISE: America’s premier podcast guest Paul F. Tompkins is the perfect US comedian to cross the pond for British sketch group Pappy’s awesomely silly quiz show-style podcast, Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown. Charming as ever, PFT gamely plays along with the show’s madness and fits in seamlessly with Pappy’s musical and poetical shenanigans. He joins Welsh comic Elis James to improvise limericks and argue passionately about the similarities between roommate sex noises and the sound of pigeons fightings for survival. Anyone who appreciates Tompkins’s talent for silly games on Comedy Bang! Bang! and Doug Loves Movies will love him here, and his presence provides a great entry point for American listeners to Flatshare Slamdown, one of several properties in the growing Pappy’s empire.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network
This week we put on our problem solving pants and dig into the ol’ mailbag for an episode-length version of Tim & Tom Solve Your Problems. We solve problems about sharing a home with your significant other, asking a girl out on a date in a world in which John Lennon has devalued the concept of love (this one’s a little complicated) and having your co-workers think you’ve fathered a child that you haven’t.
Go back in time to revisit the graduation episode of Saved by the Bell from an early “It’s That Episode” with guest Jeff Rubin (CollegeHumor, Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show). Get an extra dosage of Zach, Screech, Kelly, Lisa, Jessie and all the inhuman nerds of Bayside High. You know you want to. Recorded in the good old days… April 2nd, 2012.
This week, Sara and Nikki’s chatter skews darker as they both pick fights with BS weddings and fat-shaming yogis. To alleviate the doom of hungry vultures and faulty guardrails, the ladies share some happy secrets about their TV show and a fun fact about foxes.
Roger Cormier is the world’s worst energy source.
Elise Czajkowski is a Contributing Editor at Splitsider
Arielle Gordon is everybody’s intern.
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.