This week marked the debut of Alec Baldwin’s podcast, Here’s the Thing. Here’s the thing with Here’s the Thing, it’s silly. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy hearing Alec gravely croon sweet absurdities through my earbuds as much as the next human being, it’s just that it’s just, well, super silly. Alec seems like he’s playing the faux self-mocking version of Alec that he trots out for award shows and SNL monologues. His guest was Michael Douglas and they seemed aware if not vaguely familiar with each other. There really is something spectacular in hearing showbiz friends yuck it up like they are real human people friends. It makes you realize how lucky we have it with our weekly doses of human comedian friends. Here are our favorite versions of such:
BRADFORD: Making It with Riki Lindhome #15 — Ben Schwartz
Making It is a relatively new podcast hosted by Riki Lindhome (of Garfunkel & Oates fame) focusing on how comedians break into the industry. This week’s episode, with guest Ben Schwartz, proved that the show is especially fascinating when exploring the career of someone who has just recently broken through. Ben Schwartz apologizes multiple times in the interview, worried that no one will find his stories interesting, but he has no reason to be sorry. Schwartz and Lindhome’s conversation is consistently engaging and funny throughout, offering up a candid and in-depth look at Schwartz’s still-fresh career. It also serves as a reminder of all of the amazing things Ben Schwartz has accomplished in the last few years, including earning a spot on Robot Chicken’s writing staff, freelancing for David Letterman and Weekend Update, playing a beloved recurring character on Parks and Rec, writing Hugh Jackman’s opening number at the Oscars with Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab, winning an Emmy, acting opposite Don Cheadle in a new Showtime series, and scripting the upcoming remake of the 80’s hit Soapdish. Ben Schwartz walks Riki Lindhome through each milestone in his career, step-by-step, in an interview that’s a must-listen for aspiring comedians and geeky comedy fans alike.
JESSE: Nerdist #134 — John Hodgman
(Warning: I will be name-dropping hard in three words) I once met John Hodgman (toldja so). It was almost four years ago and the Apple commercials had just become crazy popular. I decided to tell him I was a big fan (because I was). I walked up to him and told him I really liked his book (because I did). He responded, “No one ever says that — it’s always the commercials — let me buy you a drink.” A few moments later, “I’m think I’m too old to be served here in Williamsburg so you will buy me a drink.” And I did and we talked for a little while. What a gleaned from that time is that though John loved being “the PC,” he’ll always think of himself as that nerdy writer. The Nerdist interview echoed this sentiment. Most of John’s stories centered around how absurdly lucky he feels to have had such an improbable late career shift. John has created a definitively smarty pants persona for himself and though his pants always do seem appropriately intelligent, it’s nice to hear him be a little bit more earnest. Also we get the return of the most highbrow of games, “movie titles that sound like pooping.”
Who Charted? #47 — Jimmy Pardo
Host Howard Kremer was really good at asking questions this week, which for Who Charted? means he was really awful. Where most podcasts ask questions that the guest could easily answer, Howard seemingly asks whatever will make the least sense. For example, while discussing the movie Footloose, he flatly asks guest Jimmy Pardo, “Boise, Idaho?” Without telling him ahead of time, Howard decided to create a game where he’d name a city and Jimmy would have to decide if it was or was not footloose (Spoiler Alert: Jimmy was 3 for 3 in determining footlooseness). It goes without saying that Jimmy’s a podcast pro and was always at the ready to take the interview wherever Kramer’s cranium wanted to take it. This week also marked the debut of advertising on Who Charted?. AdamandEve.com is a natural fit for the oft sexually charged podcast. It’s a great sign that the ad was anything but distracting for this super great offering.
JOEL: The Bugle #169 — “Captain Crazy Corks It”
Man, every week, The Bugle could easily be the podcast pick. It’s that good. That consistent. The Bugle receives bonus points for its stick-it-to-the-man credentials. Basically hosts John Oliver (Daily Show hero supreme) and Andy Zaltman take turns being bad ass. The latest edition of Oliver and Zaltman political satire features a spirited “F*ck-You-Logizing” of Qaddafi, the recently deceased and deposed Libyan leader. Zaltman wonders when the “unconfirmed reports” will cease. There’s excitement for Elton John’s newest Qaddafi rendition of “Candle In The Wind.” Oliver recaps all of Qaddafi’s Bond villain traits. The guys question whether the “International Society of Fugitives” will downgrade Qaddafi’s final sewage pipe hideout. Oliver proposes the glory of the inevitable Qaddafi final-hideout-turned-tourist-attraction, complete with sewage pipe themed trinkets for kids. Zaltman also gleefully reads off taunting RIP tweets from other despots. Coming off his recent stand-up appearance in Orlando, Oliver also intros the show with an enthused takedown of the kids’ paradise. This includes Oliver’s joy/sadness at witnessing zombie smoking breaks at the Halloweened-out Universal Studios. The guys also squeeze in a quick UK-sports news round-up (AKA dumping on the French). Another week, another inspiring rapid-fire session of Oliver and Zaltman’s savage and breezy comedy.
Normally, when Michael Ian Black and Tom Cavanagh — the namesakes of Mike And Tom Eat Snacks (MATES) — get together over the snack table at MATES Worldwide HQ, it’s just them and their producer, Ian/Olaf. Their simple directive: Pick a snack/Eat a snack/Rate a snack. But the snack game is just a diversion. MATES is really about two longtime and funny friends trading witticisms and barbs with one another, part of the circuitous route taken in getting to each week’s snack. Often the snacks are pre-packaged, familiar items; Fig Newtons, Häagen Dazs, and Lays potato chips have all been sampled, for instance. This episode, however, a man named Juan Cristóbal is invited in to prepare fresh guacamole. Mike and Tom have quite a bit of fun at his expense but are both clearly excited to have a freshly made snack on hand for a change of pace. The real fun kicks in when Cavanagh reveals, several bites in that he is incredibly allergic to avocado. It’s a race to get through the guac and rate the treat before Cavanagh’s throat closes off. It could all be a gag, but gagging is all he seems to be able to do as the episode wraps.
Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.