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.
The Joe Rogan Experience – Amy Schumer
LEIGH: Joe Rogan couldn't have been more accurate in this episode when he said that now is a nice time to be a comedy fan. And listening to Amy Schumer on this episode of The Joe Rogan Experience is proof of why. Rogan and Schumer cover the important things on everyone's mind like ballerinas, piranhas, rap battles and Eddie Izzard's marathon running. But it was only a matter of time before "Is it hard to be a woman in comedy?" came up. This time, however, we hear about it from a different angle – in response to Jerry Seinfeld's response to criticism over the lack of diversity in his web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. It's hard to ignore the fact that the conversation gets tense at points, but that tension only works to make this episode that much more entertaining.
Song Exploder – Loren Bouchard
ZOE: Each week, Song Exploder invites musicians to dissect their songs and describe the process behind them. Lucky for us, this week’s guest is Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard, who explains how a few simple ukulele chords became the theme song for the most endearing comedy on TV. “I knew I found something I’d been waiting for my whole life,” he says, describing the moment he stumbled across the ukulele at a flea market. From there, he introduces us to each instrument and the story behind it, ranging from a Casio SK5 to a bowed acoustic base. Through its various layers, the song masterfully embodies the show’s balance between childlike naïveté and adult cynicism. It’s especially heartwarming to learn how the final version includes many of Bouchard’s original recordings from San Francisco. Hearing each isolated track will give you an even deeper appreciation for the whimsical, home-grown sound that he's so thoughtfully pieced together. A few extra perks of the episode include a never-before-heard C section and commentary from Jon H. Benjamin and Eugene Mirman. The show is only 15 minutes long, but will undoubtedly give you many more minutes of pleasure each time you sit down to watch Bob’s Burgers.
WTF with Marc Maron – Jason Reitman
MARC: This was part one of an interesting and incidental "family week" for host Marc Maron. Jason Reitman, director of such movies as Juno, Thank You For Smoking, and Up In The Air, was in, booked weeks in advance. Then his dad, director Ivan Reitman, was suddenly slated to appear the next day (to plug his new movie Draft Day.) Jason Reitman comes across as a very smart and insightful guy, who reveals the core scene that appealed to him in each of the scripts that he shot (“In Up In The Air, it was that scene where Clooney is standing at the door at the end – that’s what got me”). The influence of having grown up, literally, on the sets of his dad’s movies, such as Stripes and Ghostbusters (he was two years old and on location when Animal House was shooting), was a gravitational pull toward his filmmaking career. Maron has an interesting drive in the interview – getting deep into the Reitmans’ relationship as father and son – fueled by the pre-interview revelation that he is going through some soul searching after a falling out with his own dad.
The Dead Authors Podcast – John Ross Bowie
ROB: The best episodes of The Dead Authors Podcast, the show where Paul F. Tompkins as H.G. Wells interviews comedians playing authors from the past, tend to be one of two extremes. Either the guest plays their character very loose and frivolously, having done almost no research (check out Jason Mantzoukas as Plato), or they know the author’s bio front to back and wear their character like a tailored suit. This week’s episode, with John Ross Bowie playing writer/host of The Twilight Zone Rod Serling is of the latter variety. Bowie renders Serling as an incredibly intense and sometimes argumentative sci-fi writer, which at times seems to intimidate the audience. But listening to Serling and Wells butt heads over Wells’s condescending Britishness, try to out “twist-ending” each other, and haggle over how many Emmys Serling had won at any given time of his life comes off hilariously. If you know about Tompkins’s New Year's tradition of marathon-watching Zone, you’ll know both sides of the conversation are well versed in Serling’s history and tropes, so the conversation is actually enlightening, on top of the comic verbal jousting. At the end of every Dead Authors Podcast, Wells reads audience questions sent in on Twitter (which sometimes can be hit or miss), but this week’s Q&A has some very funny submissions, so it’s worth listening to the end.