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.
Nerdist –Arnold Schwarzenegger
MARC: The former governor of California and action movie icon Arnold Schwarzenegger is no stranger to media but has he ever appeared on a podcast before now? That subject's not touched upon in the hour-plus interview Schwarzenegger grants Chris Hardwick and Jonah Ray, but many other topics are. From growing up as a boy in Austria, schlepping buckets of well water in the dead of winter to bathe with, to pumping his upcoming movie Sabotage, listeners are treated to a download that amply fills the time allowed. Schwarzenegger could be a poster boy for motivational speaking as he talks about how his drive for what he wanted to achieve made him push the limits of what education he's gleaned. With money saved up from body building competitions, he invested in a small apartment building in Los Angeles, only to keep flipping and growing increasingly larger buildings – "I wanted to be comfortable enough so I wouldn't have to take roles I didn't want." And in a discussion about movie catchphrases, he reveals the argument he and director James Cameron had over the famous phrase "I'll be back." "I insisted that it was too soft and that I should say 'I will be back.' We went back and forth over it. I have to admit, I was wrong." Schwarzenegger has a lot to say, and Hardwick seems happy to sit back and let him command the conversation. Whether you're a fan or not, you'll likely come away picking up at least one or two tidbits you'd never heard before.
Skeptic Tank – Tom Segura
The late E.B. White once famously said, "Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it." Despite the innate subjectivity that forms our individual senses of humor, that adage still applies today in a culture where weekly 1,200 word recaps of sitcoms are the norm. But scrutinizing comedy can be pretty interesting when fellow comedians take the place of critics, and it gets even more intriguing when the comedian is explaining their own work. Ari Shaffir's Skeptic Tank
takes that to a whole new level this week as he invites Tom Segura to dissect his 2010 hour, Thrilled,
track by track. It's a lengthy episode, but it's worth it to hear Segura give you his thoughts on Thrilled
four years after its release and how he looks back on that time in his life and career. Shaffir did a similar episode for his own hour, Revenge for the Holocaust
, a couple months back, but this episode allows him to step back and ask Segura the origin of his Thrilled
bits, the perils of crowd work, and which joke got him the most death threats. As Shaffir mentions in the cold open, hopefully, more comics agree to do these album breakdowns because they're fascinating enough on their own to warrant a separate podcast.
The Goddamn Dave Hill Show – Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Ian Black
ZOE: Dave Hill is a man of many faces: author, comedian, rock god, erotic poet — these are just a few of his identities. Suburban moms would probably describe him as “very well rounded,” while a biographer might say he’s “the most endearing renaissance man of all time.” However you describe his diverse career, part of Hill’s charm is the unassuming way he can talk to pretty much anyone about anything. This is especially apparent in this week’s episode of The Goddamn Dave Hill Show with guests Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Ian Black. The conversation with Gladwell includes life advice that you may expect, as well as a discussion of cocaine that you may not. For the second half of the episode, Black brings his signature dry humor but moves to the more serious topic of dropping out of school, offering a very poignant critique of acting programs. The two call up fellow The State member Kevin Allison, who mentions an “ass class” he recently taught at the kink convention Winterfire, leading the three to ruminate on the mechanics of cattle prods. Never one not to rock, Hill closes the show with riff requests from callers. If you like Dave Hill, which you totally should, listen to this goddamn episode.
Hollywood Handbook – Scott Aukerman and Jeff Ullrich, Will Hines and Neil Casey
JOSH: Fans of Hollywood Handbook have grown accustom to Hayes Davenport and Sean Clements welcoming a variety of their A-list Hollywood friends onto the show to discuss the backlot particulars of showbiz, but this week's episode was different. Earwolf co-founders Scott Aukerman and Jeff Ullrich stopped by to provide listeners with an inside look at the intricate machinations of Earwolf by engaging in a live contract negotiation with Hayes and Sean. Combining these two sets of distinctly funny Earwolf personalities was basically The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones of comedic podcasting. Integrating the unique character humor of Comedy Bang! Bang!, which in this week's episode was adeptly accomplished by two dueling lawyers played by UCB virtuosos Neil Casey and Will Hines, with Hayes and Sean's well-defined brand of pop culture-infused comedy resulted in a wonderful amalgamation of hilarity. It's certainly an interesting format and one I hope the show revisits. Who wouldn't listen to a How Did This Get Made?/Hollywood Handbook crossover episode? Regardless, I could certainly imagine this episode of Hollywood Handbook functioning as a backdoor pilot of sorts for a future law-themed podcast hosted by Neil Casey and Will Hines; the working title: We Object! Hayes and Sean are on a roll as this week provides us with yet another in a long line of strong episodes of Hollywood Handbook.