Four months ago, someone at the AV Club explained that we have enough comedy podcasts at this point. Earlier this week, with a slightly altered graphic, someone else at the AVC made the exact opposite argument. So which is it? Have we reached comedy podcast overload? Yes and no. We have totally reach an overload of average to below average comedy podcasts. I’m not going to call out shows but there are plenty that do nothing with the medium other than offer a glorified way to promote gigs or other promotables. That being said there is still an underload of great podcasts. Depending on the size of your hand, there is only a handful of consistently great comedy podcasts. It’s why when a show like The Dana Gould Hour comes out podcast fans take notice. Ultimately, podcasting is an incredibly young medium and seems a bit nuts to try to limit it before its had a full chance to figure out its potential. Speaking podcasts, here are this week’s podcast picks.
BRADFORD: Comedy Bang! Bang! #164 - Tony Clifton, Ben Schwartz
Ben Schwartz says to Scott Aukerman midway through the latest Comedy Bang! Bang!, “I’ve done this show maybe six times… and this is the most we’ve ever listened in our entire life. We usually like fuck around. We’re just not saying anything. We’re giddily smiling for Tony Clifton stories.” It’s definitely an irregular Comedy Bang! Bang!, as, at moments, the normal show takes a backseat to some amazing, never-before-heard stories from Tony Clifton, the Andy Kaufman-created character who’s in the studio promoting a run of shows at The Comedy Store in Hollywood. The highlight of the episode is a fascinating story from Clifton about Jim Carrey’s audition for the Kaufman biopic Man in the Moon that I’ve never heard told anywhere before, and it seems to be true - despite the fact that a fictional character is telling it. Ben Schwartz and Scott Aukerman’s comedic styles are drastically different from Clifton’s, but the three are able to meet in the middle and have fun together throughout the program. Aukerman has a really funny running joke about Binging things on Google that Tony Clifton seems to appreciate, and likewise, Aukerman and Schwartz are enthralled by Clifton’s tales. Tony Clifton dropped by Marc Maron’s podcast earlier this month (and Bob Zmuda also did before that), but neither of them told this great Jim Carrey story there, which seems to be a Comedy Bang! Bang! exclusive.
JAY: Jim Florentine’s Comedy Metal Midgets: Jim Reviews the Movie Rock of Ages
Jim Florentine is probably most well-known for the character “Special Ed” from Crank Yankers. But those who listen to Jim’s podcast will find him to be closer to his “Bobby Fletcher” character – matter-of-fact, deadpan, and uncensored. On Comedy Metal Midgets, Jim talks about whatever interests him that week. Florentine has done everything from tell embarrassing jokes from his early comedy notebooks, to interview rock stars, to purge his feelings after Patrice O’Neal’s funeral. Whatever the subject, Jim does not hold back on the honest or the funny and as a bonus, each podcast concludes with a prank call from his Terrorizing Telemarketers albums. Comedy Metal Midgets had been on a hiatus for several weeks, but the rock/comedy gods practically forced Florentine to come back an skewer the new movie Rock of Ages. Jim loves heavy metal and while the music of Rock of Ages is more of the hard rock genre, he can’t stand to see it neutered and sanitized for suburban soccer moms. Jim is so disgusted by the movie, he actually makes me want to see it. The podcast ends with the Terrorizing Telemarketers call “Jimmy Lachman,” in which we see how many times a telemarketer can be transferred to another person before she hangs up. And yes, I realize that this week I am doing a print review of an audio review of a musical revue. How’s that for meta(l)?
JESSE: Doug Loves Movies – Jeff Garlin, T.J. Miller, Pete Holmes
What’s your favorite part of Doug Loves Movies? The games? I hope it isn’t the games because you’ll hate this week’s DLM. It was the most highly anticipated guest combo since when Paul F. Tompkins played three people. It was the most difficult guests ever episode. And they were so difficult. SO difficult. They all came, especially T.J. Miller and Pete Holmes, with the intention of stealing as much focus as possible. It was like listening to three monkeys fighting over a banana on Doug Loves Movies. At first, Garlin seemed peeved to be associated with the other two knuckleheads but halfway through he hopped onboard the U.S.S. Friendship, even comparing Miller and Holmes’s ability to just turn it on to ham extraordinaire Robin Williams. It was an equally hilarious and annoying episode. I feel bad for Doug. It was perfect.
JOEL: Jordan, Jesse, Go! #229 - Jimmy Pardo
Ever the glutton for self-punishment, Jesse Thorn and Jordan Morris put up “nightmares” for the latest Jordan, Jesse, Go! episode. Comedian Jimmy Pardo guests and alternates with his go-along charm and playful fake ire. The guys keep things loose, letting the topics change effortlessly. Thorn gets things off to a fascinating start with his brain Botox plans. They invent an already classic new product on the spot – “the broaster.” They also get into it about frat boy villains. Listeners are treated to another round of Jesse Thorn’s ongoing grammar torment. Jordan Morris is always ready to start some healthy brainstorming and Thorn and Pardo are game to play along. The crew breaks off into a stupid snack conversation. Listening in to three of podcasts’ most effortless conversationalists and funny men is proves why Jordan, Jesse, Go! continues to be a shiny example of the intimacy of the medium.
MARC: Probably Science #26 - Guest Bil Dwyer
The comi-science trio of Matt Kirshen, Brooks Whelan, and Andy Wood have been gaining in both comfort levels and confidence since I first reviewed their Episode 7. Welcoming the former host of TV’s Battlebots, Bil Dwyer, to the podlab takes them off into a flurry of real world stories that are funny but have little to do with science. Struggling mightily to reel it in, they get back on track and dip into the science news and talk about studies regarding learning music while you sleep, a global campaign to get more women into the sciences that turns out to demeaning and recent findings that animals are smarter than were previously thought. Although Dwyer was in proximity to robotic creations, he claims to be mostly science clueless and, as a result, he’s the main offender at pulling the crew off topic. Nonetheless, the patter between all four is fast and furious, with a tendency toward funny regardless of the careening topics. Even a final item about the possible resurgence of Polio in Afghanistan fails to put a damper on the proceedings.
ROGER: The Dana Gould Hour #8 - “Summer Testacular”
What constitutes a “real man” and how terribly wimpy are the XY chromosome carriers of the last two or three generations? Those questions were attempted to be answered by Dana Gould, Eddie Pepitone and the other boys through their own personal humorous, emasculating stories on last week’s podcast. Guest Joel Stein’s book about trying to become a man to influence his infant son was undoubtedly the influence behind this, so the Time magazine writer’s presence in a few of the segments was natural, despite being the highest profile guest of the show to date. The Dana Gould Hour continues to separate itself from most of the other comedy podcasts by splitting itself up into more than ten segments, preserving its freshness by ducking out of any line of thought if there was nothing funny left to say and keeping its audience on their toes. Even Pepitone and his infectious laugh disappeared without explanation for a couple of nonconsecutive segments, but panelists Lou Schneider and Rob Cohen picked up the comedic slack with Gould and Stein, and after you heard the familiar bumper music the Bitter Buddha would be back again. Hour for the first time in eight episodes did not make a single JFK reference and had its first callback from a previous download (“Briaaaaaaannn.”) It’s growing up and turning into a fine young man, despite not knowing how to throw a decent sinker.
Dork Forest # 124 - Guest Dennis Blair
How Was Your Week #68 – Jessi Klein, Tavi Gevinson
Sklarbro Country #100 – Fred Armisen, James Adomian
Ten Minute Podcast - “Hateful Messages”
This Better Be Funny #29 – Justin Ian Daniels
The Champs with Neal Brennan and Moshe Kasher - Charlie Murphy
Who Charted? #82 - T.J. Miller
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.
Roger Cormier is a victim of his town’s Irony Ordinance.