You know what this is? It’s a celebration, bitches. I’m not trying to be a misogynist, it’s that I’m only addressing female dawgs right now. What up, dawgs? Woof? Of course. Female dawgs who love comedy podcasts that is. Let’s take a second to think about how adorable that is…”What’s your favorite podcast, dog?” “What The Bark with Bark Maron. You?” “Either improv4dogs or You Made it Woof.” And scene. Anyway, the actual celebration is this columns one year anniversary (well one year and 11 days). On Cinco De Mayo, 2011, Joe Berkowitz and I started “This Week in Comedy Podcasts” and what a long, not that strange trip it has been. It has been exciting to see to see the medium grow and evolve. Though it hasn’t necessarily exploded in popularity, it has realized certain artistic possibilities. Thank you for reading our over 250 recommendations and tolerating “jokes” like “Bark Maron.” Here’s to many more. Without further ado, here’s this week’s picks.
BRADFORD: International Waters #3: Andy Daly, Erin Gibson, Humphrey Kerr, Margaret Cabourn-Smith
A new monthly comedic game show from Jesse Thorn, released through his Maximum Fun podcast label, International Waters brings two teams of two comedians – one from the US and one from the UK – together in a competition over pop culture trivia. Jesse Thorn, no stranger to riffing with our sharpest comedic minds, hosts the show ably, and in this episode, he welcomes US comedians Andrew Daly and Erin Gibson to compete against the UK’s Margaret Cabourn-Smith and Humphrey Kerr. It’s a solid hour of intercontinental merriment, with Thorn and his guests quickly falling into a fast and funny rapport with each other. And just like in the Revolutionary War, we kicked the Redcoats’ asses in the trivia game. While Jesse Thorn and his guests all have their fair share of funny moments throughout the episode, Andrew Daly is the MVP, especially when referring to Chili’s as “a practice restaurant” and when pitching his shot-for-shot remake of Pretty in Pink, which will feature all of the same actors and actresses, now middle-aged. I’ll be deeply ashamed of humanity if there isn’t a Kickstarter for the Pretty in Pink remake by the end of the week.
JAY: Ari Shaffir’s Skeptic Tank – Ralphie May (Part 1)
Ari Shaffir’s Skeptic Tank is a comedy podcast that attempts to keep the conversation focused on one theme. Each week, Ari Shaffir (host and Los Angeles-based standup) interviews a guest about one aspect of their life. At least that is the idea. The conversation often strays to other topics, but the theme is the jumping-off point. This week’s guest is comedian Ralphie May. You probably first met Ralphie as the funniest (and largest) contestant on Season One of Last Comic Standing. Ralphie’s topic on this episode of The Skeptic Tank is: Fat. Most people probably know what it feels like to be overweight, but Ralphie breaks down exactly what it is like to be morbidly obese. Ralphie gets right into it as he recalls his brush with death, as he almost died on a cruise ship from pneumonia and pulmonary embolisms. He explains what goes through your mind when you are told you are probably going to die. Needless to say, he pulled through and turned around his life, losing 400 pounds and quitting pot. The podcast concludes with the current state of Ralphie’s physical and mental health and stories about his former herculean weed habit. We are lucky to have the chance to hear Ralphie tell his own story, because we very nearly lost him. Check out this podcast even if you are somehow not a big Ralphie May fan. It could just save your life.
JESSE: improv4humans #26 – Jon Glaser, Brett Gelman, Joe Wengert
As a fan of comedy, there is a reoccurring frustration in having missed the opportunity to see your favorite comic actors when they were improvisers. As a result, one of the best parts of improv4humans is getting a chance to at least hear comedians like Tim Meadows, Ben Schwartz, or in the case of this episode, Jon Glaser improvise. Jon Glaser did not disappoint, especially in picking the perfect times to tag people out and heighten the scenes. Adding to the energy of the show was that it was recorded live at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival. Besser made the point that the reason the podcast exists is that he wanted to take the weekly Asssscat live show and turn it into an audio podcast so for that podcast to become a live show is a bit like a snake eating its own tail and bit like a super great turn of events. It’s just how it is when there are bagels in the freezer.
JOEL: The Long Shot #509 “The Eddie’s Said Too Much Episode” - Zach Sherwin
The Long Shot Episode #509 seamlessly switches gears throughout – from some healthy behind-the-scenes live comedy talk to hilariously mundane and personal anecdotes. One of the show’s key winning elements is its four distinctly different hosts’ interplay. That’s always been true in a basic sense, but this week’s episode was a revelation on how much more laughs The Long Shot can squeeze out of their group dynamic. The hosts, Sean Conroy, Amber Kenny, Jamie Flam and Eddie Pepitone, create a crazy fun grab bag of honest recaps, on-the-spot sketch work, agitated and meandering storytelling and the holy grail of top-notch fucking-with-each-other hijinks. Their guest, comedian Zach Sherwin, superbly tags a few of the “checking in” stories and manages to keep adding to the fun. The episode is pretty dense in terms of its specifically silly moments worthy of highlight. There’s the comes-too-easy image of Flam working as senile Pepitone’s elderly caretaker. Pepitone’s doctor visit recap leads to the creation of poor old Mrs. Timonarro forever sitting in life’s proverbially waiting room. Pepitone also creates a firestorm of laughter with his unintentionally ridiculous and meandering recap of War Horse. Kenny is on Pepitone’s case throughout. It’s a delight to see the show’s ray of sunshine take repeated aim at Pepitone’s winning combo of boldness and confusion. Conroy remains on top of his host game. His feisty demeanor from past episodes is still there, adding yet another layer to the awesome group dynamic. And, yes, they all find yet another way to torment Flam with repeated mocking call backs. Phew. It’s a true Long Shot classic – a grand reward for both long time and first time listeners.
LINDSEY: The J.V. Club #10 - Jen Kirkman
Oh, Jen Kirkman. She should probably take a cue from her good buddy PFT and just appear on all of the podcasts already. After a stellar spot on The Todd Glass Show and her recurring segment on The Pod F. Tompkast, I think it’s the least she could do. She owes it to us. Definitely. This week’s episode of The J.V. Club is fueled completely by fan questions that range from favorite music to the Judy Blume novel the guest used to get off. (The answer is Then Again, Maybe I Won’t, obviously.) As always, the conversation revolves around high school memories, with Kirkman regaling tales of being a freak, taking tap lessons and being dragged off of a boy while in the basement by her father. Her stories are our stories. She is all of us. Promises of a part two, where diary entries are read, were made, so keep your eyes peeled for what is sure to be a very special installment. Only ten episodes in and I already love this show. Man, ladies are the best.
ROGER: The Nerdist # 206 - Tina Fey
To open The Nerdist Chris Hardwick admitted to Tina Fey that he couldn’t believe that she was on the show. Podcasts have such self esteem issues don’t they? Why wouldn’t she go on one of the most popular podcasts in the universe? Hardwick is a good broadcaster who has trudged through some of the mire fellow comedians have gone through, so it was no surprise that Tina Fey felt comfortable talking about disparate subjects, ranging from trying to translate incredibly dirty material to network television (you can’t) to why Liz Lemon was always written as a character that was uncomfortable with sex (Fey herself never wanted to do things like “be on top of someone in just a bra” on camera.) An interesting, albeit predictable answer to the question of what her plans are for after 30 Rock was an attempt to write another movie, followed by a return to television in the multicamera format due to it being “less exhausting.” Hardwick deftly mixed the silly with the serious, and he unsurprisingly did just fine on his own on Fey’s home turf (not flying Jonah Ray to Queens too was probably a budgetary decision.) This was Tina Fey’s first appearance on a comedy podcast (sorry, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, but you just aren’t as funny as it used to be) and it went well. I think the world would be a better place is Fey became a podcast regular that we eventually got sick of, and it’ll all be thanks to the humble Chris Hardwick.
The Flabbergast is one the flagship shows of new podcast network Feral Audio, which includes columnist favorite The Duncan Trussell Family Hour alongside new shows from Brody Stevens, Matt Dwyer and Little Esther, plus a dating advice hour and a little treasure called Dongtini. Host/star Sean Conroy has become a kind of podcast pioneer, with frequent appearances on improv4humans and its predecessor, the ASSSSCAT podcast (plus his co-hosting slot on The Long Shot). The two former titles are groundbreaking in their highly accessible delivery of long-form improv, which is inherently a very frustrating art to follow from a distance. (Missed a Swarm show? You can try asking friends for a recap, but you’ll probably just get a “You had to be there.”) With The Flabbergast, Conroy works with elements of improv and sketch to create a character-based variety showcase, one that draws inspiration from classic radio storytelling series to craft the audio equivalent of a one-man show. The format lends itself perfectly to podcasting, and it highlights Conroy’s serious voice acting skills. Though the show clocks in at just 36 minutes, it covers a lot of ground: An increasingly racist conversation between a cop and a recently robbed human statue, a bunch of gangsters arguing about the Sopranos series finale (eventually tossing out the title line, “Life is a crazy dance on quicksand and marbles,” as the discussion gets existential), a friendly conversation between a boundary-less man and his porn averse neighbor, a visit from The Cheerful Reaper, an alternate version of Lord of the Rings, a Cash 4 Gold commercial parody and a botched Russian mob hit. Scenes are edited with gentle fades, music and interludes from an off-the-rails radio announcer (whose static-fuzzed intro, sidebar, made me want to queue up an episode of Exit 57). The Flabbergast is a great break from all the 2+ hour-long interview shows that are currently piling up in my iTunes — and it’s a damn delight, too.
Comedy Bang Bang #158 - Jordan Peele, Gillian Jacobs
Improv Obsession #17 - Billy Merritt
Sklarbro Country #94 - Jon Hamm
You Made it Weird #49 – Bo Burnham
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 has never trusted those silver robot guys that perform on the streets.