This Week in Comedy Podcasts: Finding Hope in ‘Comedy Bang! Bang!’
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. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy.
Comedy Bang Bang – The Historic Rap
Kathryn: Were we ever kids? Sometimes it’s hard to remember. It was tough to listen to a lot of my favorite light-hearted podcasts this week, and joking about politics was right out – I’d queued up the rebooted Bugle sans John Oliver (Wyatt Cenac was great this week in his stead) but when it came down to it, the only thing that hit the pre-apocalypse spot in my brain again was good old Comedy Bang Bang with the all-stars, Mantzoukas and Tompkins. The first half-hour, in particular, is joyful: listening to the genuine love Jason and Scott have for each other, how their comfortable chemistry perfectly ebbs and flows, and periodic riffles of PFT laughter in the background before he’s technically been introduced, gives me hope. Jason doesn’t believe Scott was ever a kid, and Scott can’t see Jason growing old, but in this moment in time they spend one and a half hours in a room together because they want to, because it’s fun. After the break Tompkins does appear as Cal Solomon, an original founding member of the seminal rap group The Sugarhill Gang, and his bad historical rap about pizza is also fairly joyful. Maybe it will hit the spot for you too. [iTunes]
Keepin’ It 1600 – The Day After
Mark: For the last six months, The Ringer’s Keepin’ It 1600 has been a weekly highlight. Amidst the centuries-long leadup to this apocalyptic election, the 1600 crew has been a steady source of hilarious discourse and liberal bedwetting-relief. After all, hosts Jon Lovett, Tommy Vietor, and Jon Favreau all have real DC experience in some capacity. Jon Lovett is a TV writer (1600 Penn, The Newsroom) and former chief speechwriter for Senator Hillary Clinton, Jon Favreau (not that one) used to be Director for Speechwriting for President Obama, and Vietor is a former National Security Council spokesperson under the Obama administration. But much like 48% of America, this episode takes a somber tone as the three are left shellshocked by Tuesday’s election results. As they sort through the aftermath, a eulogy evolves into a plan of action coupled with an honest assessment of the comedic media landscape. The ending leaves you with a glimmer of hope that these three will be there to shed light on the darkness yet to come. [iTunes]
Noah: Rather than take a deluge of election calls and do a show “that expires at midnight,” Tom Scharpling aired a long lost episode of The Best Show this week that’s spent over ten years sitting in the WFMU archives labeled “No Archive. Why? Cuz It Was A Horrible Show.” It all starts so innocuously: an old-school, two-hour, four-theme-song episode with some great early GOMPs at the hands of our beloved host, who refers earnestly to having 50 or so subscribers to the podcast. There’s a cute, nervous call from future producer Pat Byrne, and Darren Ploppleton makes a few surprise references to Scharpling not being fond of Donald Trump from The Apprentice. Tom is surprised to learn for the first time that AP Mike is a Deadhead. Then Scharpling cues up the newly released trailer for Clerks 2 to commentate on it, a bit he’d come back to for many years on WFMU, and an uncensored f-bomb gets through on the airwaves and a series of scummy know-it-alls – and Pat Byrne, who makes two additional calls from various points on the time-space continuum – pounce on Kid Jersey, threatening to report him to the FCC while cussing themselves and admitting to drunk driving arrests. As the grim reality of the election results hit present day in the studio, 2006 faded out, and a scratchy, drippy, atonal sound collage took us home. It was a brave exercise and just another example of how Newbridge can be just what you needed. Get well soon, Tom! [iTunes]
How to Be Amazing – Sharon Horgan
Elizabeth: For the latest episode of How to Be Amazing, host Michael Ian Black hops on a trans-Atlantic call with actress, writer, and creator Sharon Horgan. Sharon, the brain behind Pulling, Catastrophe, and Divorce, tells Michael about her path, or slog, from growing up on a turkey farm to acting to getting the crazy opportunity to do Pulling for the BBC. Like any interview with a female artist, there’s discussion of work-life balance and her appearance, but in this case, Michael acknowledges that they would not be talking about this with a male guest and ties the questions into the stories she tells through her work. Sharon also talks about her collaboration with Rob Delaney, the ups and downs of figuring out Catastrophe’s third season, and why she considers Divorce Sarah Jessica Parker’s show rather her own. [iTunes]
Definitely Dying – Coyote Logic with Dan Lippert
Marc: I don’t tend to be that skittish about my health, as a rule, but every time I listen to Definitely Dying, I think I must have contracted whatever it is hypochondriac hosts Madeline Walter and Ben Axelrad think they may have. This week’s guest, Dan Lippert (Teacher’s Lounge, Big Grande), has a small litany of ills both imagined (“When I’m walking my dog at night, I think every car at night may be a drive-by”) and real (“Sometime my shoulders pop out — not all the way out of their sockets — when I get a pass during basketball. It really hurts”). But the major focus in this episode is diabetes. It starts out when the hosts and guest all reveal they always tend to be thirsty and they pee a lot. (One can see how the paranoia starts: Regular people would connect the intake to the outtake. Not for our erstwhile diagnosteers.) The discussion leads co-host Axelrad to dig out the Ten Warning Signs of Diabetes and the trio starts grading each other all the way down the list, one by one. (Along the way they DO apologize to real sufferers of the disease.) They end up tied at that. But buoyed up by the little knowledge they’ve gained they go online to play “Diabetic Dog,” a learning game that pet adoption agencies employ to make sure any potential new owners of diabetic dogs are fit to be owners. But after feeding the digital pooch a steady diet of cake and soda, it’s rushed to the animal hospital and our trio is banished from the game. [iTunes]
Pablo: The Association is back in our lives and so are basketball podcasts like The Starters and Vice’s Cookies. On this week’s episode, Desus and The Kid Mero, now Vice employees due to their eponymous late night talk show, return to Cookies to talk NBA… but really, just the Knicks. And since it’s the Knicks, there’s a lot of talk about losing. And not just their near half-century championship drought, but also the accent of Latvian Kristaps Porzingis which the duo says was lost from the young superstar binge-watching World Star videos with his teammates. You can’t talk about the losing ways of the Knicks without bringing up their immortal blues rock-playing owner James Dolan and his cheap ways get lots of discussion in this episode. Last season, he cancelled Fan Appreciation Day after a tank-filled year which meant that Desus could not load up on the customary free concessions for Knicks followers. But at least the Knicks remain the only team in the NBA with their own in-stadium drone. [iTunes]
Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown – Feed The Pet(s)
Marc: It’s another month so time once again for England’s high-energy sketch group, Pappy, to pop out another installment of Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown. Quick setup for those who haven’t caught this podcast game show: Ben Clark, Matthew Crosby, and Tom Parry, the members of Pappy, are pretend flatmates and every episode various chores, duties, and peccadillos of apartment living serve as the kickoff for each show’s theme. This month is Feed The Pet(s), the parentheticals being there because they never could figure whether it was meant to be singular or plural. Ben plays MC, judge and jury, which Matthew and “Clarkie” are paired with comically bent flatguests. This time it’s Kevin Elton and Ed Gamble. Recorded live in front of an audience, the teams compete against each other for a collection of points which are awarded via some mysterious metrics via Ben. This time around there a kickoff song about pets adapted from the popular Frozen tune “Let It Go,” a game adapted from the improv warm-up “Three Things,” a mock trial regarding pet care, and the “Quickfire Round,” which has a hilariously slow-paced and endless opening tune. Audiences NOT in Great Britain may miss one or a few of the references to places and people, but the pace is so furious that those will soon vanish in favor of the next absurdly funny thing to be uttered. [iTunes]
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Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Mark Kramer is a writer, comedian & human boy from Staten Island, New York, but please don’t hold that against him.
Kathryn Doyle is a science writer from New York.