Jim Gaffigan was sure on a lot podcasts this week – hot podcast. (That flawlessish joke was in reference to Gaffigan’s famous hot pockets bit. It’s legit super famous, the type of bit that anyone who reads this site would probably know, so if you didn’t get it, you must not be reading this site, which begs the questions then, where are you? What are you reading? Why has this parenthetical lasted so long?) He was on them all to promote his released directly online comedy special, which speaks to podcasts’ ascension as a valuable place for promotion (see also: Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair). It has not surpassed late night shows but it’s nice for them to be acknowledged as a way to reach a discerning audience. So Jimmy Gaffs showed up a lot in my iTunes downloading queue – good thing his motto is, “My name is Jim Gaffigan. Anytime you hear me, you’ll be sure to laugh again.” That’s not his motto but now it is. Also, now it’s time for this weeks picks.
BRADFORD: Beginnings #46 – Dan St. Germain
For newcomers to the show, Beginnings is an interview podcast in which the show’s hosts talk to comedians and writers about their origins and their creative processes. This week’s episode proves to be an atypical one as the guest – stand-up and writer Dan St. Germain – struggles quite a bit to become comfortable with reflecting on his own comedy. There are some contentious moments with St. Germain questioning whether he should even be on Beginnings, but his assessment of his craft during the interview holds more weight than he seems to realize, as he manages to make several insightful points about the importance of comedy. The second part of the episode features hosts Mark Bisi and Andy Beckerman reflecting on the interview and the themes therein, which nicely compliments the first half of the show. It’s not all grueling introspection in this episode though! There are some solid laughs to be had too, particularly with Mark and Andy’s faux-promo ad for their landscaping company’s Kickstarter and a new character they created called the 12-Sided Diceman, a Dungeons & Dragons-savvy Andrew Dice Clay.
JAY: Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin - Kristen Wiig
What can one say about Alec Baldwin that could accurately reflect the scope of his career? The man has done it all. From stage to screen to television to radio, Baldwin has “owned” more media than William Randolph Hearst. Now, with his fortnightly interview show Here’s The Thing, Alec Baldwin will surely ascend the podcast peak. This week’s episode features current Saturday Night Live cast member Kristen Wiig. SNL is the Skull and Bones Club of show business; its inner workings secretive, its traditions legendary, and its initiates brimming with professional potential. Cast members rarely divulge much about their time on the 17th floor of 30 Rockefeller Center. That is why it is such a treat to hear one of SNL’s greatest hosts interview one of its greatest cast members. Kristen Wiig was recently nominated for an Academy Award for co-writing Bridesmaids, but her story begins far from Hollywood. She tells Alec of her youth and that she had never acted prior to enrolling in a drama class in college. When her teacher asked if she had ever considered acting as a career, she decided to move to Los Angeles and give it a shot. Kristen tells Alec about her first LA job and how she found her path as a member of The Groundlings. Then it’s her SNL audition story, complete with the typical confusing/terrifying meeting with Lorne Michaels. The pair discuss Kristen’s vast array of characters, such as Gilly and Judy “just kidding” Grimes, as well as her desire to take on dramatic roles in film. Then it’s on to her collaboration with Annie Mumolo, writing Bridesmaids and how brilliantly the roles were filled. The podcast concludes with Wiig talking about her new projects and reminiscing about her favorite people to work with at SNL. This is the final year of her contract with the show and she opines on her eventual, if not imminent departure from the cast. This season’s finale will not be the beginning of the end for Kristen Wiig. It is merely the end of the beginning, as she’s only scratched the surface of her potential. And I’m not “just kidding.”
JESSE: How Was Your Week? #57 – Chris Parnell, Jon Daly
This week’s episode of How Was Your Week? featured an array of emotions, from sad to jovial to sweet to sexy (is sexy an emotion? Remember when Tina Turner sang, “What’s love but a sexy hand emotion?”). The episode started with a eulogy of sorts to host Julie Klausner’s recently deceased cat, Smiley Muffin. Smiley Muffin was a frequent topic of the show and a bona fide Internet star – she will be missed. From there Klausner went to a delightful interview with Jon Daly, in character as Sappity Tappity, the Drunk English Rollerblading Pine Tree. There aren’t often characters on HWYW? so this was a nice change pace and a great time for all. From there Klausner set-up her interview with Chris Parnell by admitting she has a huge crush on him. The interview flirt is an interesting phenomenon as the interviewer, who is already trying hard to be charming and interested, tries to step up their game even more. Speaking from experience, it’s an awful thing to listen back to, so I’m sorry for Julie. But I’m thankful for us, as it’s a fantastically charged interview. Also, Klausner debuted her newest character the “dog valet,” who is the best.
JOEL: The Long Shot #504: Enchantment vs. Football - Beth Stelling
This week out, The Long Shot foursome is missing their angry clean-up hitter, Eddie Pepitone. No need to fret, the M.I.A. co-host ends up making way for a particularly raw and loose edition. The best host in podcasting land, Sean Conroy, along with his eager cohorts, Amber Kenny and Jamie Flam, welcome sarcastic but earnest guest, comedian Beth Stelling into the fold. Stelling’s an easy match for the group, sliding right in with the over-sharing and fun bouts of self-hate. Her aloofness and playful prodding of a particularly feisty Conroy is all charm. Honesty is always one of the greatest feats of The Long Shot crew. Long running inter-group commentary and back-and-forth between the hosts is also special stuff. Both are in full effect thanks to a delightful Conroy/Flam dust-up over “enchantment” of all things. Both Kenny and Flam continue to bring life to proceedings with their dual threat of youthful sincerity and ridiculousness. It’s a treat to hear the gang’s animated talk of lottery winnings and much more. The now long-running series is really beginning to benefit from its longevity and camaraderie, showing off a lived-in charm and a willingness to engage with each other in both familiar and new ways. It’s like hanging out with a great group of friends, albeit a slightly messed-up group. It’s podcasting, we should have it no other way.
LINDSEY: Throwing Shade #24
If you’ve had a bad week (oh boy, have I had a bad week) there is nothing better than finding a new favorite thing. Guess what? I found it, and it comes in the form of a podcast. Perfect. Throwing Shade is the new-ish podcast from former infoMania correspondents “homosensual” Bryan Safi and “feminasty” Erin Gibson, and it’s quickly becoming a must-listen. Want to know Bryan’s ultimate sexual fantasy? What the term “Daisy Duckin’ it” is referring to? How to change any conversation with your mom? (Answers, in order: Foghorn Leghorn, girl in a shirt and nothing else, Meryl Streep, duh.) All of this plus discussions of importance like equal pay, gay Mormons and Joy Behar’s thoughts on contraception. So topical, so fun. They are also likely to coin your next favorite band’s name, Yul Brenner’s Side Ponytail, so please listen and love them and maybe someday Bryan will invite you over for a moist evening in. We all have dreams.
MARC: WTF with Marc Maron #269 – David Cross
Marc Maron is a good interviewer. Interestingly, unlike most detached mainstream talk show hosts, Maron’s attitude shifts perceptively along a definable scale depending on his relationship with any given guest. There’s a sense of reverence for comedians older than him, who have survived and had a career. Often times there’s a whiff of (often) admitted resentment for contemporaries who may have scored bigger on the comedy scoreboard that Maron himself. And younger guests often have to prove themselves in terms of their chops, their understanding of the biz, and whom they paid attention to in their formative baby comic years. David Cross falls into a special segment of those whom Maron came up with in his formative years — and when he’s got someone from that crew, his tone gets warmer, he laughs more heartily and he surprises with strange little stories about his guests that they tend to have forgotten. Cross, for instance, pleaded no recollection of a long-ago show at Boston’s Catch A Rising Star where he reportedly stripped to his briefs and ran around the room unfurling toilet paper over everything and everybody. Maron and Cross go deep, putting every bit of the more than hour and a half chat to good use. From their knock around Beantown standup days (and Cross’s “Loser Museum” apartment) to Cross’s many forays into TV (The Ben Stiller Show, Mr. Show, Arrested Development and lots of things in the cracks), his most recent spotlight project for IFC TV, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret and beyond: Jumping unabashedly into Cross’s experiences with crack and getting healthy. Maron’s style helps to make it an effortless, informing experience with a lot of funny moments along the way.
ROGER: Dana Gould Hour # 5: Conspiracies! - Eddie Pepitone, Matt Weinhold and Meet The Press contributor Mike Murphy
The Dana Gould Hour doesn’t stick entirely with their designated topic in their podcasts, but I really wish that they saved such a great topic like conspiracies for another time. Only five episodes in and already one of the top comedy podcasts out there, Gould’s exuberance for the new medium needs to be tempered by the realities of coming up with twenty six (the show is biweekly) installments a year. It leads me to reasonably believe that The Illuminati or the U.S. government may have contacted Gould, informing him that if he likes his livelihood he may best stop aiding the public in being too content with free comedic content. Whether black helicopters had been circling above the former Simpsons writer’s head or not, “Conspiracies!” was still an enjoyable piece of work that featured the best “Political Talk with Two Guys from Boston” segment yet, why comedians make terrible spies and when the best time and place to listen to their podcast is (late at night, in a car, same as Art Bell’s old radio show. Your mileage may vary on that one. For me, I don’t even drive, and the Internet kind of took away “late at night”’ loneliness through stillness characteristic that I think they were talking about. Or whatever.) There weren’t as many taped features as in recent weeks (hopefully not a sign of fatigue), but they weren’t necessary - who better to pontificate about and completely understand all of the conspiracy theorists out there who need something to connect their abundant “free floating anxiety” to than stand up comedians?
SAMANTHA: The Mutant Season #24 – Pete Holmes
My favorite podcasts feature conversations you feel lucky to be let in on, and this week’s Mutant Season, in which nine-year-old host Gil gets weird with Pete Holmes, is the best example yet. Forget, for a second, Holmes’ own show’s tendency to skew towards X-rated material and think about it: the perpetually-Impregnated-With-Wonder comic hanging out with an actual child for an hour? It’s pretty damn delightful. Gil is probably the closest IRL equivalent of Oskar Schell in existence, wise beyond his years and ambitious to boot (he’s working on a pilot for Channel 101, but has his sights set on a future as a combination chef/podcaster/volunteer firefighter/SWAT team member). He steers the show like a seasoned captain, at times playing the inadvertent straight man to Holmes’ wandering monologues. Plus, guys, there are so many giggle fits! (“I just want a video of you laughing at my jokes so I can watch it on a rainy day,” Holmes quips. “Is that a weird thing to say?”) Topics of conversation range from penmanship — with Holmes suggesting Gil email his teacher “The future is now, cursive is stupid” — to the intricacies of the stock market — with Gil asking for investment advice — and if you can listen to this without a ridiculously huge perma-smile plastered on your face, you’re inhuman.
Best Show on WFMU - Chris Elliott, Jason Woliner, Jim Gaffigan, Marc Maron
improv4humans #21 – Stephanie Allynne, Allan Mcleod, Joe Wengert
It’s That Episode # 13 - Adam Pally/My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - The Cutie Chronicles
WTF with Marc Maron #268 – Jon Glaser
You Had To Be There #58 – Jim Gaffigan
Jesse David Fox is a writer, cat person, and Jew (in that order). He lives in Brooklyn. His iPod is broken.
Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.
Lindsey Allen lives in Austin, TX. She has perfect teeth and a nice smell. A class act, all the way.
Roger Cormier does not want to see your clay baby.