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'Louie' Returns from a Long Hiatus with Two Solid Episodes

Louie returned to FX last night after a year and a half hiatus, with two new episodes, and if you're worried the show would lose its touch during its time away, you can set those fears to rest. The premiere episodes of season four, “Back” and “Model,” while being vastly different from each other in style and tone, are both perfect examples of what makes Louie so great.

“Back” ultimately focuses on Louie’s back problems, but the episode’s name correctly states that he and his show have returned. The episode loosely winds from scene to scene, in a style much like the early seasons of Louie. Also like classic Louie, episode one hits on some of Louie’s favorite beats, like getting older, being a father, loneliness, and the inside world of comedy – interspersed by scenes of his standup in the Comedy Cellar.

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Inside John Oliver's Other Weekly Satirical News Show, 'The Bugle'

John Oliver's new late night show, Last Week Tonight, premiered yesterday on HBO. It’s obviously a big step for the British expat, formerly of The Daily Show, but in practice, it might not be as big of a challenge for Oliver than you might think. That’s because, on top of being a correspondent for The Daily Show, he’s already been doing a weekly satirical news roundup for nearly seven years now on his podcast, The Bugle.

The Bugle is one of the longest-running and most consistently hilarious podcasts on the internet. Launched in 2007 under the auspices of Rupert Murdoch’s London newspaper The Times, it’s a delightfully cheery review of the week’s news, co-hosted across the Atlantic by Oliver and his British counterpart and longtime comedy partner, Andy Zaltzman.

Each week, the podcast, dubbed “an audio newspaper for a visual world” (in the same self-deprecating vein as the title of Oliver’s new show), skewers world events and the people behind them with alternating onslaughts of audacious silliness and biting sarcasm. READ MORE

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This Week in Podcasts: The Ghost of Huell Howser Visits CBB and Two UCB Founders Address the NY Stand-up Thing

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.

improv4humans – "Ask the UCB 1" - Ian Roberts

ELISE: After a weekend when much of the New York comedy community was embroiled in a debate (mostly in the form of Facebook postings) about UCB's policy of not paying its performers, Matt Besser recorded a special episode of his podcast as the first of a series of "Ask the UCB" episodes. Besser and fellow UCB-founder Ian Roberts reminisced about the early days of the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, the formation of the theater, and the founding principles of the UCB community. Calmly and without accusations, the two explained the economics of all the UCB enterprises and their philosophy of UCB as an arts collective. Though they didn't discuss the specific too much (other than Besser's estimation that it cost about a million dollars to launch the UCB East theater), both did great job of defending their reasoning for not paying performers, and from the tone of the discussion, its unlikely that the theater's policy will be changing anytime soon. There isn't much in the way of comedy in this episode, but for anyone with an interest in live comedy, the show is absolutely worth listening to. READ MORE

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This Week in Podcasts: Harmontown, Larry Miller Returns, and Todd Glass Makes It Weird

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.

Harmontown #24 - Harmoncountry: Phoenix, AZ

ROGER: Harmontown decided to leave their comfy home of Los Angeles's Meltdown Comics to traverse this great land for a twenty-day tour, nobly releasing a podcast of each show the following afternoon. On the first night of the tour in Phoenix, Dan Harmon entertained the audience by obsessing over not being good enough and wondering out loud why the tour was happening in the first place. It all started when Harmon and co-host Jeff Davis heard that 40% of the audience had never heard the podcast and that everyone was charged 22 American dollars, an amount that scared Harmon, who had never performed at a 22-dollar show before. Harmon went into self-loathing mode after a few of his raps were not to the former Community showrunner's satisfaction. It wasn't justified, since the show was as funny as always, with new tour wrinkles like Davis and Harmon's comically blatant pandering to the local crowd ("You love cacti!") and the show standards: the so-juvenile-it's-acceptable raps about bedding people's mothers, and the fun and creative ongoing Dungeons and Dragons game (I've never played, but the podcast single-handedly convinced me that it could be a lot of fun to play). Still, Harmon insisted at one point that he wished he were dead and that the audience throw things at him (provided they weren't heavy). It was a little awkward, always entertaining, but never uncomfortable, and even heartwarming, on account of the audience talking back to tell Harmon that he was loved. READ MORE

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This Week in Comedy Podcasts: Michael Keaton, Aziz Ansari, Janeane Garofalo, Judd Apatow

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. 

Professor Blastoff #86 – Janeane Garofalo

SAMANTHA: What’s better than a good conspiracy? Not a whole lot, which is why this episode of Professor Blastoff is an especially fun one. Guest Janeane Garofalo – a former Air America host who notoriously quit the internet in 2004 (a story she goes into in detail) – is the perfect person to get into it with. She’s the personification of most rational people’s approach to "alternative” theories," acknowledging the improbability of outlandish claims while questioning the kernels of truth in their foundations. Starting with a classic – the moon landing – and working their way through the Flat Earth Society, a variety of 9/11-related scenarios, and the JFK assassination, the Professor Blastoff team shifts between dubiousness, defensiveness, and silliness (the word "nipple" is giggled at twice, as it should be). Another conspiracy discussed: are Kyle and Tig slowly morphing into one another? And/or will they ever get glamour shots? Also, the episode’s cutest moment comes about 80% through, when Garofalo realizes she recognizes Kyle from his role on Reno 911. READ MORE

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This Week in Comedy Podcasts: 'Bullseye's 2012 Comedy Special, Todd Glass's Christmas Show, and More!

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. 

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn – The 2012 Comedy Special 

ELISE: As a frequent (okay, incessant) podcast listener, it's rare that I can bring myself to pay for comedy specials. But there is a value in a real comedy special that a podcasts doesn't always provide–it's  wall-to-wall funny. And these days, it's possible for an avid comedy fan to know some comedians mostly or entirely by their podcast presence, never having seen or heard their actual material. This Bullseye compilation is a great, eclectic sampling of the year's comedy specials: Aziz Ansari on food and 50 Cent, Lewis Black on smartphones, Demetri Martin on the word "OK," Doug Benson on unsolicited joke suggestions, Garfunkel & Oates on musical serenades, Hannibal Buress on airport security, James Adomian on sportscasters, an excerpt from David Javerbuam's book The Last Testament: A Memoir by God read by Seth Morris, Jim Gaffigan on bodybuilders, John Mulaney on driving, Maria Bamford on family psychology, Kyle Kinane on suburbia, Paul F. Tompkins on his stealing days, and of course, a bit from Tig Notaro's legendary Largo set. READ MORE

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This Week in Podcasts: How Did 'Liz & Dick' Get Made?, the Comedy Bang Bang Nativity Pageant, and More

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. 


 SAMANTHA: "Tim Chang was born in 1991 and proudly admits to knowing nothing about anything that happened before 2003." While this probably describes your least favorite sibling, it's also the premise of The Education of Tim Chang, a new show that chronicles "one man [Funny or Die / Conan alum Josh Simpson]'s attempt to show Tim Chang the wonders of the world around him." Following TEOTC's two part-debut ("The Beatles"), this latest episode has Casey Feigh (from UCB and television and comedy, in general) joining Simpson to extol the virtues of everyone's favorite show about nothing, Seinfeld. Chang — part of a generation for whom Modern Seinfeld might be the Only Seinfeld they know — admits he used to catch reruns the aired after WWE Smackdown, and that as far as he can tell, the show stars a stand-up and is mostly about people dealing with various quasi-midlife crises (and, delightfully, all he knows about Michael Richards is that it "sounds like a typical white name"). Starting with "The Deal" (the one where Jerry and Elaine try to be friends with benefits) and moving through classics like "The Contest" (master of your domain!) and "The Soup Nazi," Simpson and Feigh try their darndest to illustrate why, even though Jerry's "hair sucks" and "the apartment looks old," the show's got some valuable lessons behind all the absurdity. While the play-by-play explanation of the philosophy behind Seinfeld can get a little tedious (given most of our decades-long obsessions with it), Simpson and Feigh are wry and patient tutors. Will Tim learn to love one of the (inarguably, C'MON) greatest shows of all time? Is The Soup Nazi still hilarious? Are kids totally hopeless? Find out on the new episode of The Education of Tim Chang.

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That's a Thing: How Eugene Mirman Cut His Own Path in Comedy

Eugene Mirman's first hour-long Comedy Central special, Eugene Mirman: An Evening of Comedy In a Fake Underground Laboratory, will be arriving on your television sets this Friday at midnight. Who is Eugene Mirman and what does it take to put together an hour of broadcast-worthy standup? Earlier this year I decided to find out. So for a few months, beginning in March, I followed Mirman as he prepared for his special in venues around Brooklyn. I tracked down his life story as well, to get a picture of a comedian's career in progress. I started at Pretty Good Friends, Mirman's weekly show: READ MORE

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This Week in Podcasts: Chelsea Peretti's Call-In Show and 'The Todd Glass Show' Without Todd Glass

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 Crab Feast #30 - Pete Holmes

JAY: The Crab Feast is a podcast featuring comedians Ryan Sickler and Jay Larson, who operate under Jay Mohr's Fake Mustache Studio Label (I just set the record for most "Jay"s listed in two lines.) This week's guest is comedian and host of You Made it Weird, Pete Holmes. In my book (which I haven't written yet,) the best podcast hosts make you feel like you're listening to a conversation between old friends, have unbridled enthusiasm, and are generous laughers. When you combine three hosts on one podcast who all have those qualities, you have this week's Crab Feast. To add to the fun, the guys are originally from Baltimore and Boston, which boast a couple of the most fun regional accents in the country to impersonate. They begin the podcast by talking about the accents in Lincoln, their favorite Tom Cruise movies, and Boogie Nights. The conversation moves, as it normally does with Pete Holmes, to Pete's dating experiences. If you are in high school (or older) and have no idea how to deal with girls you like, this podcast is mandatory listening. The lesson is: the only way to figure out what you really like is to go out there, bare your soul, and make mistakes until you get it right and these guys are brave enough to put their experiences out there for all to hear. This episode of The Crab Feast is the brotherly advice about relationships that you won't hear anywhere else. I give it 5 stars. F The Crab Feast! READ MORE

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This Week in Podcasts: Mel Brooks's First Second Podcast, a Very Jen Kirkman Christmas, and More

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 Nerdist #288 - Mel Brooks

ROGER: Not too long after popping Tom Hanks' podcast cherryThe Nerdist continued to impress and heighten the credibility of the podcast medium by chatting up Mel Brooks for over an hour and a half. It was Brooks's first second appearance on a podcast, which was apparent when both the beginning and end of the episode found the guest asking Chris Hardwick how podcasts operate and are monetized (lot of people working on the answer to the latter.) Despite the naivety, Brooks is very sharp for an 86-year-old, so the anecdotes he shared were easy to get lost in and follow, even if a couple were heard a few times before in current or past talk show publicity tours. One of the more interesting stories that Hardwick, Jonah Ray and Matt Mira coaxed out of the comedy legend were about Blazing Saddles co-writer Richard Pryor. Pryor supposedly insisted on exclusively writing the Mongo lines, and was tasked in informing Brooks on which "black stuff" that Brooks had written were acceptable and which lines could not keep in the script because it was "only for brothers." Of course, picking a favorite anecdote is as difficult as picking a favorite Mel Brooks movie, and I'm not just writing that because Hardwick surprised his guest by bringing up the rarely mentioned fact that the possible inventor of the cell phone once punched a journalist in the face.

CORRECTION: Nerdist is Mel Brooks's second podcast appearance, not his first as we originally reported. His first was on A Bit of Chat with Ken Plume earlier this month. READ MORE

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'Comedy Bang Bang,' 'The Bugle,' 'Who Charted?' and More in This Week in Comedy Podcasts

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.

Who Charted? #102 – Todd Glass

ROGER: Todd Glass tends to take over any show he happens to be a guest on, most recently stealing an entire episode of The Burn with Jeff Ross and enveloping a recent edition of Doug Loves Movies with his charmingly silly, overexplaining humor. In one of the longest episodes in the history of Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack's Who Charted?, Glass seemed almost apologetic when he admitted to not knowing any of the charted music or movies that the hosts brought up. It wasn't surprising – a fair number of established comedians don't have the time to absorb movies, TV shows and music like us regular folk. But with assurances by Vilaysack that the music or movies were simply jumping points to conversation, Glass comfortably discussed how he comes across new songs and what type of music he likes, playing jingles from his own podcast from his phone as examples. His incredible lack of movie knowledge has already been well documented on Doug Loves Movies, but on Charted? he was able to elaborate further on why that might be. He also talked about Kremer's teeth and whether or not The Amazing Jonathan was a "dick", as will tend to happen on a limitless unbound entity. Obviously, if you aren't a Todd Glass fan this wouldn't be an ideal one hundred minutes of time to spend, but if you're a fan and an avid listener to his podcast, consider that even the advertisements on this week's Charted? used "Baby Elephant Walk" as the bed music, a Henry Mancini instrumental forever ruined/enhanced by Glass' Show's recurring unicycle bit. READ MORE

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This Week in Podcasts: Baron Vaughn Walks the Room and "The Weasel" Drops by the Cat Ranch

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.

Walking The Room #128 – Baron Vaughn

JOEL: Not all comedy needs to be have a label or be put into a box. But sometimes it does needs a dark, cramped room to really fly. Straight from the closet, comedian Dave Anthony and Greg Behrendt let loose a particularly joyful and angst ridden bout of comedy during their weekly editions of Walking The Room. This fun-anger combo is usually reserved for youthful punks. So it’s actually a pretty grand revelation that Anthony and Behrendt, a few steps beyond their early years, are so at ease with sharing their disgruntled and slightly demented dark sides. It’s usually their jumping off point, and it’s all delivered with a heavy dose of laughter, too. The fun is in the share – whether it’s a story, an off-putting life theory or just some regular ol’ shit that happened that week. Fellow comedian Baron Vaughn visit the guys for episode #128, skillfully stepping into the now-classic give-Anthony-crap mode. Vaughn manages to push the guys into a few different quality conversations. The episode is great bridge between the of-the-people filthy comedy circle and the meta-heavy “alt” comedy camp. They readily switch conversation gears from prostitutes to abusive step dad clichés to theorizing about young comedians. It’s all a bit hectic and messy, but that’s most of the fun of a visit to the closet. READ MORE

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This Week in Podcasts: Moby on Maron, Zach Galifianakis Makes It Weird, and More

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.

You Made It Weird #96 - Zach Galifianakis

JAY: Pete Holmes has been a podcaster for one full year and what better way to celebrate than with the comedy gift that is Zach Galifianakis? Answer: none. There is none better way. Or something like that. You may know Zach from such comedy films as: Hangover 1Hangover 2Due Date, and not Funny People (to borrow a phrase from Brody Stevens.) Pete and Zach get right into it, philosophizing about the differences between the way comedians and "normal" people communicate with each other, the importance of laughter, and the craft of acting. Zach then asks why movie reviewers would even write a review unless it was positive? I agree wholeheartedly. Galifianakis speaks to the pitfalls of being such a recognizable figure, how he tries to remain grounded, and being "show business fat." They discuss the talk show format and their mutual respect for Johnny Carson and Dave Letterman, taboo jokes, spirituality, and laughing in church. And that is part of why we love podcasts. They are about two artists speaking honestly, having fun, and every once in a while, giving us a "laughing in church" moment. Happy Anniversary to Pete Holmes and You Made It Weird. You couldn't have picked a better guest to celebrate this milestone than Zach Galifianakis.

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This Week in Podcasts: Chris Elliott on 'The Best Show', Tim Heidecker on 'Comedy Bang Bang', and More!

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.

BRADFORD: Comedy Bang Bang #182 – Tim Heidecker, Joe Wengert, Lauren Lapkus

Tim & Eric's Tim Heidecker dragged Scott Aukerman into the recording studio mid-week so he could promote his new drama The Comedy, leading to this bonus episode of Comedy Bang Bang. Heidecker has some solid bits up-top, about he and his high school friends' epic list of the best movies of all-time (which his new movie is at the top of) and his quadrilogy of biopics about Bad Company frontman Paul Rodgers. Joining Heidecker are two hilarious new characters, Arthur Steinborn and Diane, played by L.A.-based UCB improvisers Joe Wengert and Lauren Lapkus. It's an enjoyable episode from start to finish with Aukerman, Heidecker, Wengert, and Lapkus falling into a fun and natural rapport and creating a particularly funny episode of Comedy Bang Bang. Monday's Comedy Bang Bang with Happy Endings stars Casey Wilson and Adam Pally is also a delight, so check that one out too. READ MORE