In the ever-expanding universe of comedy podcasts, few people are held in higher esteem than Andy Daly. Whenever I’m asked to provide a recommendation for someone looking to become better acquainted with the overwhelming world of improvisational podcasts, I suggest one of Daly's classic appearances on Comedy Bang! Bang! Those episodes deftly showcase the pinnacle of comedy podcasting while, at the same time, serving as a fairly accurate barometer of an individual’s comedic sensibility. It’s possible you may enjoy other comedy podcasts if you don’t find Daly’s frequent appearances on Comedy Bang! Bang! amusing; it’s just not probable. The news that Daly would attempt the intricate transition from guest to host with his new podcast The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project came with higher expectations than your typical rookie podcast.
Right out of the gate, The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project is an enjoyable combination of wit and absurdity. The intriguing premise, that Daly and Superego’s Matt Gourley are presenting the audience with unsolicited pilot episodes from individuals who have taken advantage of Earwolf’s notoriously lax open door policy, is uniquely tailored to Daly’s specific brand of comedic proficiency. It provides Daly’s stable of wonderfully idiosyncratic characters their own personal showcase to build upon their previously established characterization. Future episodes promise to reunite the listening audience with Comedy Bang! Bang! favorites like television personality and (possible) future Honorary Mayor of Hollywood Chip Gardner and trainer to the stars Bill Carter.
The inaugural episode, however, is hosted by one of Daly’s most beloved characters, self-proclaimed Cowboy Poet Laureate of the West Dalton Wilcox. Daly, as mandated by podcast law, was joined by comedic virtuoso Paul F. Tompkins as well as Betsy Sodaro, Sean Conroy, and the outlaw country-rock band The Journeymen. The only uncertainly I felt prior to listening to the podcast revolved around the unpredictable effect the transition from uninvited guest to supervising host may have on Daly’s collection of kooky characters. Even though both are equally important to the success of a scene, it’s more enjoyable to cause, rather than prevent, chaos. For the most part my concern was assuaged as Paul F. Tompkins gallantly wore the hat, or suit I suppose, of nominal straight man. Tompkins did an admirable job of grounding the absurdity — which is no easy task when conversations concerning a morbidly obese werewolf materialize. And while the volatile Wilcox spewed some of his familiar anti-monster rhetoric, I found myself yearning for a few more trademark Wilcox tales regarding sexual relations with mother earth. In Daly’s defense, very few podcasts, humorous or otherwise, routinely discuss earth sex, so that may be more of a “don’t hate the player hate the game” type of situation, I suppose.
Poems were read and songs were sung as Tompkins repeatedly lost a futile battle to suppress his genuine delight at the hilarity blossoming around him. Daly, a natural storyteller, seemed completely comfortable in the previously uncharted waters of captaining a podcast ship. The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project seemed more like an established series than a neophyte pilot, but that’s not to say there weren’t a few rough edges. It would be nearly impossible for an ambitious podcast like this to debut fully sanded. The segments ran a bit long while the pace, at times, had a tendency to meander — and while such a notion as too much Andy Daly results in a mental 404 error, the two hour and ten minute running time is a lot of podcast. I don't want to lament the increasing length of podcasts or sound like a curmudgeon who pines for the good ol' days when podcasts maxed out at an hour and hamburgers only cost a nickel, but at some point even the funniest podcasts tiptoe the precarious line of violating the law of diminishing returns. These are all minor pilot quibbles that should in no way take away from my larger point: The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project is just as good as you imagined it would be.