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Thursday, August 21st, 2014

This Week in Comedy Podcasts: Jermaine Fowler on 'You Made It Weird'

jermaineThe 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. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy.

You Made It Weird - Jermaine Fowler
You-Made-It-WeirdSCOTT:  There’s probably no chance you’ve ever listened to an episode of You Made it Weird and thought “this needs more bits,” but if you are that outlier, this is the episode for you. Pete Holmes and Jermaine Fowler (MTV’s Guy Code) are apparently two cogs that join to create a perpetual bit machine. The first 14 minutes is just riffing on sport coats and shoes and favorite black girl names and next thing you know they’ve been trying to get out the story of how Fowler got started in standup for at least an hour. That’s not to say it’s not fun; it’s an episode where they can't go down any roads very far before a bit detour pops up. This episode answers the question “what would happen if a guest just freely yes-anded everything Pete Holmes does?” and in doing so, you get almost two hours of free-flowing fun, impressions, “white guy voice,” and deep, deep callbacks. Through the bits, or perhaps in spite of them, we do get to hear about Fowler’s first time doing standup (school talent show), how he almost quit after six months, his career ups and downs, family drama, and his thoughts on death.  And of course, an obligatory look into what weird things young Pete Holmes masturbated to. This time it was Tekken.

How Did This Get Made? - The 1st Annual Howdies Pt. 1

HDTGMFULL-162x162JOSH: While the Emmy Awards are still a few days away, the very best of How Did This Get Made? was honored during the first annual Howdies! Intrepid hosts and bad movie aficionados Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas, and June Diane Raphael take a stroll down cinematic lane with a look back at the first 88 films they reviewed on the program. After crunching the numbers, the trio reveal that they've spent the equivalent of 10.7 days watching movies and producing the podcast. Unfortunately, the specific Sylvester Stallone per minute data is not yet available. The Howdie Awards alternate between presenting traditional honors like Best Celebrity Guest Impression and Best One-Liner with more HDTGM-centric awards like Best Next Level Bonkers Theory (sadly, June Diane Raphael's spaghetti robot hypothesis from Judge Dredd was snubbed) and Weirdest Thing Jason Is Turned on By. Chelsea Peretti and Pete Holmes make special guest appearances via phone, while part one of this comprehensive retrospection ends with a supercut of quotes from the Patron Saint of How Did This Get Made? himself, Mr. Nicolas Cage. Did your favorite moment win a Howdie Award? What's the deal with Jason Mantzoukas and hot dogs? What the hell was going on during the filming of the 2006 Matthew Broderick/Danny DeVito film Deck the Halls? Some of those questions are answered in this week's nostalgic edition of How Did This Get Made?.

Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast - Mike Reiss
Gilbert___600x360PABLO:  Some might consider an auditory medium to be the least ideal place for a comic best known for his irritating, never-ending, nails-on-the-chalkboard laugh. And they're totally right. But as long as you turn down the volume on your device, the latest episode of Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast provides plenty of insight and gossip about the early years of The Simpsons and the final years of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. This week's guest is screenwriter Mike Reiss, best known for showrunning The Simpsons with partner Al Jean during the show's golden age, who shows up with plenty of stories about molding a cartoon that was created in five minutes into a 25+ year institution. But since Simpsons diehards have probably heard most of these tales, the highlights of this episode come from Reiss's experience working on The Tonight Show's last years under Carson, which he describes as a stringent, uptight workplace that hired Carson's stalkers to curtail their obsession and fired writers who were coincidentally making a weekly salary identical to what Carson's latest ex-wife requested in alimony. In fact, Reiss has had such a long and successful career (including co-creating The Critic) that he can afford to write children's books on the side, 17 in total. But he can't stay away from television; his latest project is turning one of them into an animated holiday special for NBC.

The Carson Podcast – Mel Brooks
mza_3630065889459556115.170x170-75LEIGH:  In a time when everyone's got an opinion on the state of late night TV, it's only fitting The Carson Podcast, hosted by Mark Malkoff, exists to honor the legend that was Johnny Carson. And, as if Carson alone wasn't enough legend to satisfy you, this week's guest is Mel Brooks. From the moment he describes how he and his friends were "like Muslims called to prayer" when it came to watching The Tonight Show every nightup until the very end when he refers to Carson as "the yellow brick road" who showed him why he got into show business, every story out of Brooks's mouth is captivating. His enthusiasm for sharing these stories is matched by that of Malkoff's, who is full of tons of very specific references and questions for Brooks. It's amazing to hear that Brooks not only remembers them all, no matter how obscure, but that he's excited to talk about them. If you're fascinated by Carson's legacy, there's really no better way to hear about it than through stories from people who knew him and experienced it firsthand.

Improv Nerd with Jimmy Carrane – Sad On Vacation
UnknownMARC:  In the world of comedy podcasts there are actually very few that talk about how to do comedy. And, while Improv Nerd with Jimmy Carrane isn’t an instructional “how to” course about improvisational comedy, there is a lot to be learned — and some laughs along the way — in Carrane’s show. With each of his guests, he deconstructs how they approach improv, as well as how they use it in their lives. This episode he talks to the members of Sad On Vacation, a nine-member, all-guy sketch comedy troupe that got their start in Carrane’s hometown of Chicago. Though most have moved to Los Angeles to pursue their own interests, they still band together occasionally, mostly to produce video sketches for the web. As Carrane engages the group, they each have their own take on how effective (or not) improv has been for them, and how – for some of them – the techniques still inform their performances and writing today. Partway into the show, we’re treated to several Sad On Vacation sketches, which skew a bit dark but pretty funny, even as presented in audio form. Carrane is a savvy improv performer and instructor, which gives him the ability to ask some meaty questions and dig out some useful answers from his guests. Like many podcasts breaking this week, Carrane spends some time up top talking about the late Robin Williams, but — because the interview with Sad On Vacation was recorded some time ago — the show doesn’t dwell on the event.

Thrilling Adventure Hour - Beyond Belief, “Jones on Third”
mza_3634691790099778933.170x170-75ROB: The Thrilling Adventure Hour, a tongue-in-cheek update of old-timey radio for the podcast era, often comes recommended based on the strength of its writing. This week’s “Beyond Belief” episode — starring Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster as Frank and Sadie Doyle, a cocktail-swigging pair of Manhattan upper-crust psychics who solve supernatural conundrums between rounds of martinis – is no different in that respect. Writers Ben Acker and Ben Blacker continue to outdo themselves script after witty script, with this week’s episode featuring lots of narrative false starts, meta-textual interactions, and all-around cleverness. But TAH is also a live show performed in front of an audience, and this one is particularly fun to listen to. Besides Tom Lennon’s ridiculous, almost manic delivery of his noir character Pterodactyl Jones, the normally flawless Brewster seems to have had some trouble reading her lines – for example, conspicuously pronouncing the “P” when first introducing Lennon’s character. Her defective diction reemerges from time to time throughout the episode unintentionally, but always in the most endearing time and manner possible. Meanwhile the story eventually spirals to its own flippant conclusion, which is always satisfying, but always leaves you wanting more “Beyond Belief” too. If you haven’t given this podcast a listen, I highly advise you try it. It’s one of those hidden gems of the Internet.

Ronna & Beverly – Eliot Glazer
mza_6001495334562752125.170x170-75ZOE: Every so often, a generation births the rare breed of journalist who isn’t afraid to ask hard-hitting questions such as “Do you like pearl onions?” “Where’s the sweating most problematic?” and “Aren’t you adorable?” Your parents' generation is blessed with two such people: Ronna Glickman and Beverly Ginsberg. People like myself, meaning those who grew up in Jewish suburbs of Boston, will be predisposed to love this show because it’s essentially listening to your mom host a podcast without it being your mom. If you’re new to the show, here’s the lowdown: Every week, Ronna and Beverly, played by Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo, sit down with comedians to pry into their love lives, get a little too personal, and offer personal grooming advice. And if they go on a tangent about cornichons or Astroglide? So be it! This week’s guest is comedian-mensch Eliot Glazer, the mastermind who brought us It Gets Betterish and Haunting Renditions (a must-see if you’ve ever thought Avril Lavigne’s "Sk8ter Boi" could use a little more cello). It’s no surprise that Glazer is a hit with our hosts given his operatic past, compassion for vaginas, and an impeccable Bea Arthur tattoo. Insider tip: make sure your therapist is on the ready for an emergency appointment as Denbo and Chaffin’s ridiculously on-point characters may bring up mother issues.


Other Podcasts We're Listening To:

Nathan FielderBS Report
Sklarbro CountryAndy Dick
Industry StandardSuzanna Makkos
I Seem Fun: The Diary of Jen Kirkman - 2nd Bonus Listener Email Episode 
Professor Blastoff - Online Dating (with Marty Yu)

Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.

Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.

Marc Hershon is host of Succotash, the Comedy Podcast Podcast and author of I Hate People!

Rob Schoon lives in Brooklyn and writes about tech, media, comedy and culture.

Zoe Schwab is a writer/fraud living in NYC who is somehow up-to-date with ABC Family's Melissa & Joey.

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.