Remember when Chris Hardwick turned his little podcast into a company that was purchased, probably for a sizeable amount of money, by an exceptionally huge production company? If not, it happened on Tuesday. The move speaks to many things like how great of a name Nerdist is and Chris’s branding savvy. Most important for this intro, however, it reflects the growing value of podcast as a viable platform. Though it might not bring in the ad revenue of television, it’s still another way to reach people. It might lack scale but it helps in promotional diversification. Podcasts might not take over the world but they’re undoubtedly finding their place in it and the entertainment industry as a whole. Hooray podcasts! Here are some picks:
BRADFORD: The Best Show on WFMU #503 – July 10,2012
A string of bad callers plagued The Best Show last week, but this time around, the weirdos and goofballs who phoned into Tom Scharpling’s radio program managed to keep it together, making it possible for Scharpling and company to put on a top-notch show. It’s an episode of The Best Show that hits all of the program’s strengths, with a strong call from Scharpling’s partner in crime Jon Wurster, a sincere heartfelt tribute to recently-deceased musician Dennis Flemion of The Frogs, and Scharpling memorably goofing on Game of Thrones and Jerry Seinfeld’s status as a one-percenter comedian. Best of all, Tom Scharpling makes peace with a member of the unfortunately-named small-time rock band Mit Hamine. The band’s members have been causing a nuisance on The Best Show for quite a while now with several months’ worth of bad calls, and it looks like everyone seems to finally be putting this behind them. Less Mit Hamine means more time to listen to Gary the Squirrel berate AP Mike, and that’s definitely a good thing.
JAY: Mohr Stories #70 - Marc Maron
Today we find out what happens when podcasters go mano a mano, as Marc Maron guests on Mohr Stories with Jay Mohr. The pair begins by discussing their early days in the New York comedy scene, the indecipherable podcast ratings system, and the intricacies of podcasting. The conversation turns to Marc’s trip into Carrot Top’s compound and Top’s (that’s right; I called him “Top”) sexual proclivities. Jay is clearly a fan of WTF (and who can blame him?) so he asks Marc about the inception of his podcast. Marc speaks about his start on the airwaves with the ill-fated Air America Radio. He fell in love with the medium, so when Air America went broke, the logical next step in his career was in the brand new medium of podcasting. Then the pair recounts tales of their manager Barry Katz and nightmare gigs from the old New York days. Marc tries to figure out why he never really connected with audiences as stand-up, but has found success as a podcaster. They then break down the nerd/jock dynamic. Jay addresses something Bobcat Goldthwait said about him on WTF and wonders why he hasn’t been invited to the Cat Ranch. The discussion moves on to later-in-life success and how podcasting has allowed Marc to fill comedy rooms. It ends with the two commiserating about the tough parts about being a comedian on the road, their mutual admiration for Dave Attell, and Marc’s memories of his SNL audition and appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. There is so much going on in this episode of Mohr Stories, that it is kind of hard to track it on paper (so obviously, I choose to try and do just that). You’ll just have to check it out for yourself, because as we all know from the Mohr Stories intro: “How are you gonna be great if you don’t study greatness? Look at the game tape!”
JESSE: Comedy Bang! Bang! #166 – Adam Scott, Harris Wittels, Chelsea Peretti
Farts! And! Procreation! The Sequel! The original Farts and Procreation was a game changer. It was an episode so polarizing that it defined the show in a way. CBB is not opposed to having comedians come in and do fully committed, well-executed bits; however, it undoubtedly shines more in the silliness of the failed joke. CBB is a safe space that allows the guests to push how dumb they can be. Meaning they can spend 10 minutes hyping a song like Scott and Chelsea’s “Too True, Mon Frere”, which is the worst song or, if you will, the song that is the best at being the worst. It’s complete Garbage, like the band, which means it’s good. The whole episode was Garbage.
JOEL: Jordan, Jesse, Go! #231 – Vanessa Ragland
Jordan, Jesse, Go! dynamic duo, Jesse Thorn and Jordan Morris rolled out another fun episode this week. They continue to double down on the laid back charm and conversational tangents. Actress, comedian and podcaster in her own right, Vanessa Ragland, joins the guys for a quick moving show that jumps all over the topic map. Ragland’s an easy paring for the show, making her seem almost like a regular co-host of the show. Ragland’s killer skill is being Johnny-on-the-spot with the obnoxious and inappropriate comments at the end of Thorn and Morris’ patented pseudo-stoner theorizing. Thorn throws out another round of baby talk but, as usual, it turns into the best kind of baby talk. A highlight of the show is the groups’ willingness to get on the Magic Mike cultural relevance train and dish out a lengthy discussion on the latest Steven Soderbergh flick. The discussion quickly derails into a dong vs. boner debate and then, again, some quality nonsensical theorizing of what somebody should want from a dong. There’s a whole lot more of where that came from with these three conversational easy riders.
ROGER: The JV Club #18 - Maria Bamford
Maria Bamford is a highly respected, hilarious comedian that helps any person out who has the misfortune to participate in an argument with a mouthbreather who believes that women aren’t funny. Hell, even the current King of comedy Louis C.K. has gone out of his way to praise her stand-up, and has rewarded her talent by casting her in a future episode of Louie. So it sucks that Bamford’s podcast appearances are few and far between. But when she is a guest on a podcast it is always memorable. Bamford shared even more about her mental issues on Thursday’s The JV Club than she did two years ago on WTF, going into detail with host Janet Varney about her suicidal thoughts at the age of 10, her current bouts with Bipolar II disorder and more personal stuff you should listen to for yourself. It’s sad but ultimately rewarding to hear a comedian offer so much about his or her personal life, because, like Varney admitted on the podcast herself, she feels better every time she hears about a famous person dealing with issues similar or as seemingly odd as her own (Varney suffers from Depersonalization Misplacement Syndrome), and it strengthens the bond between fan and entertainer by adding another layer of context to their humor. The ladies only JV Club, which is heavily influenced by WTF’s most personal episodes and Paul Gilmartin’s Mental Illness Hour podcast, that has a logo that mainly consists of a smile filled with braces, with its episode descriptions on its website showing a picture of the guest at present day on the left and a photo of them as a child on the right, seemingly wants us to ask the depressing question: How do we end up getting all screwed up after being such cute children? But in the end JV Club isn’t about being sad, but a reminder that along with any misery, there is a lot of entertaining company.
SAMANTHA: Probably Science #28 - Moshe Kasher
The brilliant Moshe Kasher joins the Probably Science panel for an hour of conversation prompted by facts about deafness, weird diets, and the Higgs Boson. Kasher imparts life lessons we’re glad someone else learned for us (like that drinking a quart of vinegar will probably help you pass a drug test, and how to make passable fake pot), along with anecdotes about his time as a sign language interpreter, the art of endurance, and his memoir, Kasher in the Rye. Plus, controversial topics like the foie gras ban and wolf hunting! One of my favorite stand-ups to watch onstage, Kasher’s quick wit makes him the perfect podcast guest, and this episode’s no exception.
Sklarbro County # 7 - Matt Braunger, James Adomian
This Feels Terrible # 4 - Jeff Davis
WTF with Marc Maron #295 – JB Smoove
You Had To Be There #70 – Dave Hill
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 has never had the pleasure of Donald Duck riding in his train car.