The Year in Comedy Podcasts
2015 was the year that comedy podcasts grew, crossed over and got the recognition they deserve. From a growing, yet niche part of the internet that devoted fans have devoured, it has continued to evolve into television, movies and mainstream pop culture.
Comedy Bang! Bang! will air its fifth season of the television show next year, continuing to draw inspiration from the originating podcast making the connection from pod to screen that much smaller. Marc Maron’s WTF landed the world’s biggest guest when President Barack Obama was interviewed in the now-infamous garage studio. Worldwide news outlets picked up the unstructured, one-on-one conversation with a comedian and brought the podcast into the limelight.
It has officially been a decade this month since the Guardian UK released The Ricky Gervais Show, widely considered the first comedy podcast. From its radio roots it has been transformed into an animated television show while further launching the careers of Ricky and Stephen Merchant as well as a previously unknown producer Karl Pilkington.
While some have grown exponentially getting more high profile guests like The Nerdist, indie podcasts are building in popularity targeting niche markets with creative concepts. – Kaitlynn
Marc: If we consider the past ten years to be, essentially, the Decade of the Podcast, perhaps the next ten will be seen as the Decade of the Podcast Network. There seem to be more and more of them gathering steam (and shows) all the time. Some are just loose collectives of shows, run by folks who have become friendly enough to start playing each other’s promos and having each other on as guests. At the other end of that spectrum are the professionally managed and operated outfits with a slate of shows that have been carefully vetted, curated and produced, often in the same studios. This past year saw more networks than ever making themselves known but we’ve selected two that smoothly launched and seem to be doing well as they pick up both more shows and more listeners as they grow.
Wolfpop is a spinoff of the Earwolf Network. While the latter is dominated heavily by comedy-based podcasts, those found on Wolfpop lean more heavily on the idea of pop culture, and servicing all that may entail. While there’s certainly comedy in abundance on Wolfpop, you’ll find movie-oriented fare such as Maltin on Movies, Rotten Tomatoes, The Canon and The Black List Table Reads, the board game-focused Cardboard, behind-the-camera insights with Off Camera, Happy Sad Confused, I Was There Too, and the general pop-interest Get Up On This.
Headgum shares some similar niches, mostly along the showbiz angle, with The New Hollywood Podcast and Black Men Can’t Jump, plus ultra-focused stuff like Out On The Lanai: A Golden Girls Podcast, Best Of Friends, and Gilmore Guys, each with a POV for a single TV show. But there are podcasts around books (Overdue, The Easy Chair), some “true confession” chat-style shows with people “outing” their embarrassing moments (That Was Us, The Talk of Shame), relationship issues (She Didn’t Text Back, How To Make Me Come, Coupla Questions), and some straight ahead talk/interview type shows (High & Mighty, Black Girls Talking), and more.
As the podcast network phenomenon grows, we can expect that the networks themselves may get more focused on what types of shows they provide, in the interest of being the only sources for a particular subject matter. For the time being, they provide a good way to expose listeners to a variety of quality produced fare, as well as a safety net for podcasters who may not have the technical wherewithal to put up a show, but still have something to say.
Best New Podcast – How To Be A Person
Leigh: How To Be A Person started in June and very quickly became a favorite of mine. Both hosts, Tonight Show writers Mike Drucker and Jess Dweck, are great and their chemistry is even greater. And the guests, you guessed it — they’re great too. Each episode, guests teach them something to help them become people. And that’s something we could all use a little help with. The true test (okay, not the true test, or even a real test at all, but it’s my test) of a good podcast is whether or not you still listen even if you don’t know the guest or seem interested in the title of the episode. How To Be A Person passes with flying colors.
Best Host – Jon Gabrus
Pablo: When people bring up the lack of diversity at the UCB Theater, it’s generally about the racial makeup of the performers. But I’d like to add one more qualm to someone’s future thinkpiece: I wish it was louder. The theater’s style of comedy doesn’t lend well to boisterous performers of the Chris Farley variety, but Jon Gabrus has managed to thrive in the black box confines despite being brash, unruly, and very rarely politically correct. It’s this personality that makes his podcast High and Mighty one of my favorite new shows of the year despite having a premise that is normally anathema to a good podcast: “Each week, I’ll talk about whatever’s on my mind!” Under a different host, I wouldn’t even bother listening. But Gabrus is so damn entertaining that I’d listen to an episode devoted to that day’s weather report. Each week the self-described Numbah One Fuckboy invites guests to discuss an entirely new topic. Episode #4 features exercise chat with Crossfit enthusiast Eugene Cordero, while the next one had Gabrus and Betsy Sodaro gorging on Taco Bell while discussing their love for the fast food joint. Another week he’ll have a goofy talk about the 80s classic Predator, only to have an insightful discussion about Judaism several episodes later. No matter what topic is at hand, Gabrus finds a way to make it uproariously funny and emphatically listenable. While Gabrus might come off as a loudmouth Long Island native and ex-jock, which he definitely is, his self-deprecation reveals a much more complex person, especially in the Live Power Hour episode where he drunkenly calls up his mom and makes a connection between his distaste for red wine and his late father’s alcoholism. I challenge him to do an episode where he reads the phone book. There’s no doubt in my mind that the sheer force of his personality could make it work.
Biggest Guest – President Barack Obama on WTF with Marc Maron
Elizabeth: It was a another banner year for Marc Maron, who landed his biggest guest yet. (No, not Lorne Michaels, although he got him on the show this year as well.) I am of course referring to President Barack Obama, who appeared on WTF in June. While the interview had been in the works for a year (thanks to an Obama staffer who is a WTF fan), the timing of the recording — two days following the massacre in Charleston, South Carolina — turned out to be particularly important. Obama took the opportunity to address racism, gun violence, and his frustration with a Congress that did nothing after the Sandy Hook shootings. Unfortunately much of the media coverage around the podcast focused on Obama’s use of the n-word, rather than the content of the interview which gave the president a rare opportunity to talk about some of the things that were going right with the country, from a lower unemployment rate to the recognition of LGBT rights. The topics were personal as well as political, with Obama recounting his upbringing and even sharing his favorite comedians. As the 2016 race gets closer, it will be interesting to see what other candidates embrace podcasting as a way to get their message out.
Most Anticipated Episode – U Talkin’ U2 To Me? – “U2 Talk 2 U”
Kaitlynn: It’s been twenty-one episodes of Adam Scott and Scott Aukerman talking about their love of U2, trying to get Bono on the show and some free t-shirts. The close encounters of the U2 kind had been growing while the Scotts headed backstage at a show, began talking to one of the band’s publicists and even flashed U2 signs before meeting the president (if that isn’t a powerful musical prayer than what is?). When the magical twenty-second episode dropped with the “U2 Talk 2 U” title it was a surreal moment. From the opening hellos it is clear Scott and Scott are excited, giddy, and just a little bit proud. The duo traveled to the legendary Electric Ladyland Studios in New York City to meet the lovable lads from Liverpool: Bonobos, Thedge, Larry Mullen Sr.’s Son & Adam Clay 2000 Pounds. Instead of playing their interview with the band in full, they break it up with their own commentary in between clips where they can explain/make fun of themselves. The band’s sense of humor matches with the nervous Scotts even when realizing their heroes know about the podcast and their lives more than they may like. I would like to thank (Adam) Scott, and I would like to thank Scott (Aukerman) for the most anticipated episode to date.
Best Podcast That Keeps Getting Better with Age – Never Not Funny
Kaitlynn: In the beginning there was comedy: standup, sketch, improv and more. One day the comedy gods said “Let there be podcasts,” and thus, podcasts began. They created Jimmy Pardo in their likeness and Matt Belknap to guide mankind into this relatively new world. Together, Jimmy and Matt created Never Not Funny to lead all others that followed. Many creatures from the garden would visit and see what this new comedy podcast was and became tempted by the fruit of having one of their very own. Fast forward to present day, nearly ten years later and in the seventeenth season. The friendship between Matt and Jimmy is growing and somehow their banter is getting quicker. Intern Garon has come into his own character on the show as researcher, sometime ally and usually one line wonder. Video control’s Eliot has cemented his role by being shit on repeatedly, interrupting to talk into an off mic and being the punchline to jokes (in good fun but sometimes warranted). The ways Jimmy threatens to kill and fire Garon and Eliot has grown more creative with each passing episode. The foursome has grown and bonded while making guests feel welcome, in on the jokes and instantly a part of the show. This podcast is a great reminder that time doesn’t dampen the funny as it’s more engaging and entertaining than ever.
Best Podcast We Said Goodbye To – Professor Blastoff
Kaitlynn: It’s a sad day in the hatch. The long-lived, much-loved podcast Professor Blastoff came to an end this summer after 217 episodes. Hosted by David Huntsberger, Kyle Dunnigan, and Tig Notaro, the weekly podcast began with three working comedians wanting to discuss an interesting topic with a guest expert. Each host brought their own personality, and they excellently melded together: David kept the episode on track, going back to the topic and was eager to learn, Kyle kept it humorous with random comments and characters that sprouted from a random word or phrase, and Tig balanced silliness with a willingness to learn, especially when knowing nothing about a topic. Year two continued through Tig’s four months of tragedy, heartbreak, and cancer that culminated in a legendary standup set and subsequent fame. Listenership skyrocketed and year three cemented itself with a solid listenership and fan base. Along the way, characters began to emerge along with recurring games and segments. Name that Punky, What’s Nuts, Top Shelf Thoughts and Boring Texts. Professor Blastoff ended with high ratings, frequently finding itself on the iTunes top 10 comedy podcast chart. There is a melancholy feeling in the air when Tig utters the episode’s closing words knowing it will be the last time they are ever said: “Welp, that’s been podcast.”
Best Podcast To Pull A Vanishing Act – My Sexy Podcast
Leigh: When TV shows end we’re prepared for finales or we read about them being canceled. Podcasts, on the other hand, can just disappear without warning. Which is what happened to My Sexy Podcast hosted by Sabrina Jalees. While there may have been a lot of complaints throughout the 47 episodes about the excessive use of sound effects, they’re one of the things I miss the most. Also on that list is weekly insights from Jalees’ mom and visits from frequent guest Liza Treyger. To say this loss has left a big, gaping hole in the podcast universe would sound a little disgusting, but also true.
Best Podcast To Pull A Vanishing Act…Again – Affirmation Nation
Marc: The very first podcast I reviewed for Splitsider.com was Affirmation Nation with Bob Ducca. Ducca is a fantastic sad sack motivational speaker characer created by Seth Morris. I believe his first podcast appearances were on Comedy Death Ray, which later became Comedy Bang Bang. When Affirmation Nation debuted, it was running five days a week for just 2-4 minutes a day. After about 130 of these minisodes, Bob Ducca wandered off behind a gas station in the middle of nowhere and disappeared. This year, Bob was back. He had a new format, with a guest, and the shows were running once a week for about 45 minutes. Then, toward the end of May, vowing that he would again return, Bob Ducca informed his loyal listeners that he would be taking a break. As of this writing, no sign of Bob and his “self-helpless” tips or his injury-prone shenanigans. So we’ll just have to wait.
2015 Podcast Graveyard
Marc: In addition to the finale of Professor Blastoff this past year, a number of other podcasts went either quietly into that good night or else are just on a reallllly long hiatus. Here’s are five of those made conspicuous by their absence:
- This Feels Terrible with Erin McGathy
- Nocturnal Emotions with Har Mar Superstar
- Making It With Riki Lindhome
- Deviants Church with Father Randall McMurphy
- The Evil TeddyBear Podcast
Cutest Comedy Podcast Trend – Dog Podcasts
Elizabeth: It was a great year for people who love comedy, podcasts, and dogs. (And it’s nice to know that the overlapping area of that ven diagram is larger than just me.) Can I Pet Your Dog? premiered in July, hosted by comedians Allegra Ringo and Renee Colvert (the former a dog owner and the latter a dog lover) and producer Travis McElroy and dedicated to discussing all things canine — from dog news, to dogs they’ve met, to the dogs of their talented guests, who have included Lin Manuel Miranda, Noël Wells, and Emily Heller. In September, Monique Monique Madrid bought her dog-friendly monthly standup show in LA to podcast or “pupcast” form with Two Girls, One Pup. Monique and canine co-host, Comet, sit down with dog loving comedians and guests such as legendary trainer Bob Weatherwax and psychic/healer Colby Psychic Rebel. Here’s hoping for a crossover episode in 2016 (if only so the dogs can meet).
Most Loyal Following – Hollywood Handbook
Kaitlynn: If you’re unfamiliar with Hollywood Handbook you won’t be for long. It is (as they so delicately call it) an insider’s guide to kicking butt and dropping names on the red carpet lined-back hallways of this industry we call showbiz. Just in case you’re thinking what I was when I began listening… is this actor Sean Hayes playing two characters? In fact Sean and Hayes are real life comedy writers who embody the showbiz snobbery most of the world associates with Hollywood, so much so that they often crack themselves up with their own verbal arrogance. With over two years of shows, the podcast has amassed a following that dominates the Earwolf message boards. Its community is devoted to the show and its sense of humor so much they can riff on any subject or small detail on an episode. The podcast has amassed a cult-like following where fans have been guests on the show on a number of occasions. Gaining fans and celebrity momentum with every new listen, it’s hard not to be converted.
Catchiest Theme Song – We Got This
Marc: Admittedly, this is a bit of an arbitrary category, if only because so many shows use popular recorded music for their openings. Of the shows that are using original music, many have been around for awhile. And that’s all well and good, but this topic is for shows that popped up this year. We’re going with We Got This with Mark and Hal. Created by Mike Phirman (who also co-wrote the theme to Doug Loves Movies with Chris Hardwick), the theme is energetic and fun, while also put together to each the theme of the show: Hosts Mark Gagliardi and Hal Lublin picking the best of two (or more) choices around a particular subject matter. Perhaps Mark and Hal should tackle the subject of the best podcast theme song on their show.
Best Sitcom Podcast – Wooden Overcoats
Marc: While there are a number of scripted comedy shows scattered all over Podcastland, such as ManBuyCow and Rude Alchemy, I’m not sure many of them can claim to be strictly situation comedies. Not so the case with the British podcast Wooden Overcoats, which recently blasted out a first season of eight episodes. Billing itself as “a sitcom about rival funeral directors,” the setting is the small Channel Island village of Piffling Vale and the main figure is Rudyard Funn, the proprietor and undertaker of Funn Funerals, the only funeral parlor in town…until now. All the stories swirl around the rivalry between Funn and Eric Chapman, who arrives in the village and opens his own mortuary. There’s intrigue, romance, violence, mystery — and it’s all done in the style of snap-pace comedy. There are shades of Fawlty Towers, The Black Adder, The Office, and likely a good number of other TV Brit-coms I’m not familiar with, all while being completely original.
Best Chemistry – Nick Wiger and Mike Mitchell
Pablo: This was a tough pick for me. The age difference between Human Conversation’s Wayne Federman and Erin McGathy makes their show sound like a chat between a goofy uncle and his much cooler niece. And I will forever be a diehard fan of Desus and The Kid Mero’s no bullshit Bronx rapport that necessitates Bodega Boys’ pre-show disclaimer to protect the interests of Red Bull and Viacom. But in the end, I have to go with Nick “Lil’ Wiges the Burger Boy” Wiger and Mike “Spoonman” Mitchell of the Doughboys chain restaurant review podcast. Wiger and Mitchell are obviously good friends, but they play up their personal differences to such a ridiculous degree that nearly every episode features an exasperated Mitchell wanting to take a swing at his co-host. It’s like Gore Vidal vs William F. Buckley, if the two rivals were really passionate about Taco Bell and Chili’s instead of American political ideologies. Whether they’re making fun of each other for almost answering a tickle porn Craigslist job posting or having a serious debate on the flavor profiles of a Hard Rock Café cheeseburger, you can count on Lil’ Wiges and the Spoonman to suddenly snap on one another for a comment as innocuous as, “Did you know Judge Wapner?” In fact, a recent episode had Wiger saying, “We are both confident that I will die at the bare hands of Mike Mitchell,” followed by Mitchell describing his own death by police gunfire after gleefully refusing to let go of Wiger’s lifeless body. Let’s hope that murder-suicide never comes to fruition because their banter is too fucking funny, and there are so many restaurants left to review, for it to end.
Best Christmas Podcast Tradition – Doug Loves Movies’ “The 6th Annual West Coast 12 Guests of Christmas”
Marc: For the sixth year in a row, comedian Doug Benson brings an amazing fleet of guests in front of the Doug Loves Movies microphones to compete in “The Leonard Maltin Game,” a how-well-do-you-know-who-is-in-movies trivia game. Normally Benson features a trio of guests on his regular show, but Christmas being a special time of year, he drafts some of his personal and audience faves to return in a big single elimination version of Maltin. This year, his slate of guests features Moshe Kasher, Samm Levine, Riki Lindholme, Kate Micucci, Jim Pardo, Mike Fuhrman, Sean Sakimae, Michael Sheen, Sarah Silverman, Rich Sommer, Scott Aukerman, and Leonard Maltin himself, who proves to be surprisingly horrible at the game that was named after him (and uses his own movie review app for its source material.)
Best Undefinable Moment that Deserves an Award – The Last Five Minutes of Call Chelsea Peretti’s “Into the Ether”
Leigh: These days, episodes of Call Chelsea Peretti are few and far between. But that’s no reason to complain. Episode 68, “Into the Ether,” came to us after what Chelsea described as an 8 year hiatus. What started out as a typical episode of the show packed with food tests, abrupt hang ups, and things being brought to the table escalated to an instant classic in the last five minutes. While making her way through a series of new sound effects, Chelsea stumbles upon the Pomp and Circumstance Marches (that’s the graduation song — no, not the Vitamin C song, the real one) and talks over it. What happens next is so hilarious and, dare I say magical, that nothing I could possibly write about it here would ever do it justice. A little warning though: I don’t think you can just skip ahead to the end to truly appreciate how great the end of the episode is. You have to earn it.
Best Podcast Perk – Do You Need A Ride?
Kaitlynn: Normal podcast guest perks can range from free water to plugs and publicity. Each week or so, hosts Chris Fairbanks and Karen Kilgariff pick up and drop off a guest while recording the conversation for our podcasting ears in a 2008 Honda Accord. The dreaded airport pick-up is not something a friend likes to do as a favor but Karen and Chris turn that potential stressful nightmare into a positive. A warm welcome from these comedians turns into an earnest conversation sparked by whatever is on the mind of the traveler. A wide range of comedians and general funny people have accepted the ride and podcast guest spot to listener’s ears and delight and they don’t even ask for gas money.
Most Honorable Mention Mentions
Marc: At the bottom of the TWICP column each week there appears a list labeled “Other Podcasts We’re Listening To.” These shows don’t get as much ink as the “main” podcasts we talk about that particular week so they are, in essence, our Honorable Mentions. And here are the shows that ended up in the Top 3 in 2015, based on the number of times (shown in parentheses) they appeared at the end of the column.
BEST EPISODES OF THE YEAR
Who Charted – Great Ghost Debate w/ Kyle Kinane
Kaitlynn: Technically speaking, this episode came out the last day of last year, falling in that often forgotten space between the 2014 Year in Review post and 2015. Hosts Kulap Vilaysack and Howard Kremer are joined by salt of the earth stand up comedian Kyle Kinane. Ghosts are theorized, music is criticized, and the Kinane/Kremer friendship is fully realized with Kulap guiding the bromance. Whether they are bonding over disliking comedian Christmas parties, memories on tour, or blindly guessing stars of the movie The Money Train, these two demonstrate how mutual respect and friendship can translate comedically without hopping on the “bits” train. Perhaps it was the early recording time that caused the relaxed, easygoing atmosphere — whatever it was, it worked. Every minute delivers laughs with the highlight being Howard’s quote during a debate; “Accusing me of a lack of knowledge is a great strategy.”
Fitzdog Radio – Jay Mohr Returns
Pablo: Greg Fitzsimmons’ laid-back tone to his podcast opens up his guests, many of them whom he has no prior relationship with, to talk about topics that aren’t normally broached on a first meet. No question is too gauche for Fitzsimmons, whether it’s flatly asking how much money they made from a gig or if they’ve ever seriously considered cheating on their wife (and if the guest doesn’t want to say, Fitzsimmons will gladly venture his own answers). So when a longtime friend like Jay Mohr returns to the show, you know it has the potential to be great. Before the interview starts, Fitzsimmons jokes about the audible crickets in Mohr’s garage that will challenge them both to be funny in order to avoid the ultimate comedic cliché. But you’ll hear the crickets throughout this hour because both men instead have a serious, insightful, and warm discussion that is one of the best of the year. The meat of the interview centers on family. Both men acknowledge that they are part of the first wave of American dads who kiss their sons and tell them they love them. If Fitzsimmons talking about how he still gets into bed with his teenage son, who is now two inches taller than he is, to give him a goodnight hug doesn’t make you tear up, then Mohr’s sad admission that his retired parents haven’t bothered to fly from NJ to CA to meet their grandchildren will for different reasons. But Mohr’s family is now the one he built with his wife actress Nikki Cox, who co-wrote his last two comedy specials, and their two sons. It has not been an easy year for the couple, as Cox’s mother died suddenly from cardiac arrest while Mohr’s aunt was killed in an apartment fire that also sent his uncle to the burn ward ICU. Mohr is a master storyteller who can switch from standup road tales to how he and Cox differ in telling their children about tragedy and death. If your perception of Jay Mohr is still colored by his smarmy film/TV roles or his SNL sketch controversy from the ’90s, give this episode a shot. By the final 15 minutes, even the crickets have gone silent in order to listen to one of the best episodes of the year.
The Moment with Brian Koppelman – Amy Schumer
Leigh: The Moment with Brian Koppelman is about pivotal moments that fuel fascinating careers. But if you want to talk about moments, in 2015 all the moments belonged to Amy Schumer. All of them. What makes this episode from back in January so great isn’t that it’s the funniest or the most shocking or revealing interview, but the actual point it time it was recorded. Host Brian Koppelman seems to have caught Schumer in a moment (hey, look at that!) right before all the moments. Before season three of Inside Amy Schumer was even filmed, before her HBO special, before Trainwreck came out, before she won an Emmy, before America’s favorite friendship started (we’ll come back to that in a second), and I could keep listing things she’s accomplished this year but I’ve only got one paragraph for this, and you don’t have all day. At one point they talk about how the 6,500 seat theaters she’s currently playing are the biggest places she’s headlined. Listening again now at the end of the year, you know she’s headlining Madison Square Garden in June. She also mentions how thrilled she was to have been told she looks like “a more annoying Jennifer Lawrence” since she’s such a fan but has never met her. I don’t need to tell you how that one has played out.
Nerd Poker – Farewell…for Now
Marc: Thus endeth the adventure. I’m referring, of course, to Nerd Poker, the weekly podcast featuring comedian Brian Posehn “and Friends.” For the past three years, listeners had the chance to listen in on a Dungeons & Dragons adventure as played by a bunch of comedians and writers who were not only all friends of the host but only took the famed role playing game serious enough to bring them together each week. Advancing the characters and the adventures they were involved in was secondary to having a fun time. Each hour’s episode had more tangents than Deck of Many things, many of which were not only NSFW but were so inside either the RPG or comedy world that outsiders to one or the other were left scratching their heads. This final chapter featured the return of several cast members who had departed during the show’s run, including original Dungeon Master Sark (Scott Robison) and the show’s only female player, Sarah Guzzardo. The long-termers were all there — Poeshn, Blaine Capatch, and Ken Daly — as well as latter-day friends Dan Telfer and Steve Agee, who fell into the ranks to replace the missing folks. (The only one absent was original cast member Gerry Duggan, busy writing comic books and unable to find a babysitter.) In this week’s final chapter, Sark returned to bring the assembled crew together, including the ghosts of several beloved characters who had met their ends by horrific deaths as fated by bad dice rolls. And the reunion culminated with the performance of a foul-mouthed dwarven singer, portrayed by Patton Oswalt, who had composed a special song mentioning all the major characters and “honoring” them by way of the filthiest lyrics ever to pass through a pair of earbuds. Posehn insists that there will be a Nerd Poker 2.0, although what form it takes and when it may appear is a complete unknown for now. Thanks to its home on the Earwolf Network, people can binge-listen their way through the entire set of adventures for now. As a frequent listener to Nerd Poker, my one regret is that the gang was never successful in the attempt to lure Vin Diesel, supposedly a big D&D aficionado, to get into the studio around the gaming table and dice tower with them. Maybe next time.
Never Not Funny – Andy Daly
Kaitlynn: The episode starts as most do; discussing old musical theatre roles and catching up with old friend of the show Andy Daly. What turns the giggles into full on blurt laughter is the 7/11 sign saga. The store across the street has a tarp over their sign and no one knows why. So it begins as each person in the studio ventures out to purchase one item while having their cell phone on to broadcast a conversation with store employees. Garon, Eliot, Matt, Andy and Jimmy all take turns questioning the cashiers to get to the bottom of the sign saga, which obviously does not sound funny or entertaining at all but trust me, no words could adequately describe the two hour and twenty minute episode. We even get to hear Jimmy’s “Larry” character venturing out of the studio and interacting with the public. The jokes and riffs are non-stop that culminate in one of the best episodes ever. (Check out this infographic from artist Jon White that visually summarizes the episode)
FOR HARRIS WITTELS
Leigh: A funny thing happens to your brain when you listen to a lot of podcasts. Because the medium feels so intimate, it seems like you’re just eavesdropping in on other people’s personal conversations. This eventually leads you to feel an unexpected, and kind of strange, level of comfort with them. It’s a sense of familiarity that you can’t quite get from watching someone in movies, TV or even performing live. So when beloved writer/comedian and podcast fixture Harris Wittels passed away earlier this year, it sort of felt to listeners like they were not only losing their tour guide through the galaxy (…sorry), but a friend. We’ve spent countless hours listening to him speaking open and honestly, sharing his brutally honest opinions, all while cracking us up. Though most of us never even met him, his comedy has come to mean so much to us.
You don’t have to dig that deep into the podcast universe to find brilliant episodes featuring Harris, as both a guest and a host, though his heartbreaking final appearance on You Made It Weird, the Farts and Procreation episodes (1, 2, 3 and Not 4) of Comedy! Bang! Bang! or Analyze Phish are all great places to start. In the final Farts and Procreation episode, Scott Aukerman shares moments from his last conversation with Harris. When the conversation turned to the purpose of comedy in people’s life, Harris responded with a simple and perfect statement. “I just think motherfuckers wanna laugh.”
Thank you Harris, for making all us motherfuckers laugh.
Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.