This Week in Comedy Podcasts

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Welcome to the new version of “This Week in Comedy Podcasts”. Excited? Aww thanks, I knew you would be. We decided that it would be best to make this column more curatorial than editorial. The world of podcasts is vast and to proclaim some sort of definitive ranking felt asynchronous. Instead, we are going to focus on specific comedy podcast lovers’ favorite episodes of the given week. We assembled a crack team not unlike Dominic Toretto’s band of merry men (I’ll let you decide who is or isn’t Tyrese. Also, can I please be The Rock?) who together listens to upwards of 50 hours of podcasts on any given week in the cars we may or may not have boosted. Remember how your neighborhood video store used to have a staff picks section (also remember how there used to be neighborhood video stores?)? This is our version of that but WAY more 2011. So please enjoy this week’s picks and if you have your own favorite episode, throw it up in the comment section.

Bradford: WTF with Marc Maron #215 — Jon Hamm

Kicking off “AMC week” on WTF, Mad Men star Jon Hamm dropped by Marc Maron’s garage for an in-depth interview (Bryan Cranston is on the show today). Marc Maron speaks frankly about the trouble he has separating Jon Hamm from his Mad Men character Don Draper, and he spends a large chunk of their conversation figuring out where Hamm and Draper converge. Maron mentioned on Sklarboro Country last week that he wants to open his show up to non-comedian interview subjects (Maron already has a one-on-one with Anthony Bourdain in the can). While Hamm books comedic parts just as often as dramatic ones these days, his main claim to fame is still playing Don Draper, and it’s nice to see Maron stepping slightly outside of his comedy comfort zone to score a fascinating interview with a different breed of guest. Maron’s a talented and engaging interviewer, not just when he’s talking to comics, and he’s completely justified in branching out when it comes to guest selection. Maron and Hamm’s conversation paints a well-rounded portrait of the actor’s life, touching on Hamm’s difficult adolescence, his approach to playing Don Draper, his peripheral presence in the early days of the alt-comedy scene, his reluctance to take on lead movie roles, and his newfound success as a comic actor, which Hamm credits to Lorne Michaels seeking him out to host SNL.

Eli: The Pod F. Tompkast — Gillian Jacobs, Jen Kirkman, John Hodgman

It has been said that Paul F. Tompkins’ tangential-laden musings can make a listener’s ears feel as if its brain is wearing a three-piece suit. Who said that nonsensical thing? Me. Just a few short sentences ago. Which is why I warmly welcome the second season premiere of the Pod F. Tompkast back to our hearing parts. It’s once again nighttime on the Internet and, as is customary, Tompkins’ piano backed ramblings (“Only history will judge. Stop judging! What are you? History? You’re not!”) acts as the intro to Tompkast staple, “The Great Undiscovered Project.” Some people say this is just an excuse for Paul F. Tompkins to do various celebrity voices. Some people are stupid idiots and will never understand the comedic nuance of Garry Marshall searching for the Loch Ness monster. From there Tompkins offers up a recording of a live sketch from his monthly variety show at the Largo. What this segment lacks in its transfer from a live show to a recording is remedied by the reveal that guest Gillian Jacobs is in fact a giant bird. To round things out, Tompkins and special transferred-to-the-Tompkast-ether-by-free-public-wifi guest John Hodgman sandwich a Jen Kirkman phone call with a hunt for actual Internet provided sandwiches. Which exist, but are just on plates set on the floor.

Jesse: Superego 3.8

“It’s a clip show!” exclaims no one ever. Yes, clip shows have been so looked down upon for so long that its cliché to think that it’s cliché to think their cliché, which is why Community was able to have a masterpiece of an episode with their take on them. Superego 3.8 is part clip-show, part greatest hits. It’s the perfect introduction to those who have still not checked it out despite the fact that in this column’s five months, every episode they’ve released has been featured. It’s also fantastic reminder to fans of the show how lucky they are to be so. Superego is usually so densely packed with scenes that it’s easy to forget about them over time. Maybe they’ve been reading this column because they picked almost all of my favorite sketches of the season for this episode, including the Paul F. Tompkins and Andy Daly starring “Lavergne Family Dinner” and the “Sex and Candy” starring “Rockstone Investment” sketch. I was most excited to hear what was one of my top podcast moments of the year so far, the very simple, very absurd sketch in which M incessantly asks James Bond, “How British am I?” Released only once a month, I find myself always forgetting just how freaking good it is and being blown away by it time and time and time again.

Joel: The Long Shot #401 — Todd Barry

By comparison to their past Pepitone-led loud-a-thons, the Season 4 debut episode of The Long Shot is a laid back affair. Perhaps the presence of low-key guest, comedian Todd Barry, kept the room at an even clip. At the end of the show, dedicated Long Shot fans are treated to a good natured and clever follow-up to the Season 3 finale Conroy/Flam “bully fight.” Most of the laughs this week come from the group’s self-awareness of their awkward silences and dead-end comments. Kenny recounts her recent audition and offers up a string of age-based characters. Spurned by Conroy and Pepitone — a Long Shot specialty — the start and stopping and overall riffing matches the time spent on actual conversation. During the weekly recaps, Flam mistakenly starts the most depressing podcast anecdote ever, which brings out the return of “make a sandwich time” and some admirable attempts to find humor. Pepitone and Conroy recount their day together at the gun range. The random topic of the week is “newspapers.” Barry recounts his short stint as a scamming newspaper boy and also excels at tearing down Pepitone and Flam. We’re also treated to another fun Pepitone contradiction: his disdain for The New York Times while still wanting strangers to think he reads it.

Shaun: Earwolf Presents Analyze Phish #2 — Harris Wittels, Scott Aukerman

I do not like Phish.  That is probably the main reason I love this podcast.  Listening to Scott Aukerman ridicule Harris Wittels about his ridiculous musical taste is both sad and funny at the same time.  When a new song would start, I would immediately laugh at the idea of anyone taking this hippy nonsense seriously. Harris remains funny even as he gets audibly more depressed as the episode rolls on. If you like Phish, this is probably a depressing, eye opening podcast that makes you analyze your life choices.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Comedy Bang Bang #125 — Sarah Silverman, Nick Kroll, Dan Mangan

Radiolab — Loops (Specifically the first six minutes in which Kristen Schall and Kurt Braunohler discuss repetition in comedy)

Sklarbro Country #62 — Marc Maron

Jesse Fox is a freelance writer, podcaster, cat person, and Jew (in that order). He lives in Brooklyn. His iPod is broken.

Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.

Eli Terry writes for the house UCB sketch team Gramps. He is on Twitter with few followers.

Shaun Diston is a Writer/Improviser/Sailor of the Ocean.

Joel Mandelkorn is the co-Founder of The Plop List, Producer at CleftClips, Producer of The Super Serious Show.