The comedy podcast universe is ever expanding, not unlike the universe universe. We’re here to make it a bit smaller, a bit more manageable. There are a lot of great shows and each has a lot of great episodes, so we want to highlight the exceptional, the noteworthy. Each week our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists and especially enthusiastic people will pick their favorites. Also, we’ll keep you posted on the offerings from our very own podcast network. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy.
Bradford: The Fogelnest Files #3 – Jon Hendren
What sets Jake Fogelnest’s new Earwolf show The Fogelnest Files apart from the ever-growing heap of L.A.-based comedy podcasts is that the show itself (and each specific episode) has a clearly-defined focus and it’s not a podcast that anyone but its host could create, unlike a lot of these garden variety chatfests out there. The topic this week (Fogelnest Files’ first in-studio installment) is “Awesome Dudes and Total Jerks,” and guest Jon Hendren, Vice President of SomethingAwful.com (whom you might know better by his Twitter handle @fart), is the perfect person to accompany Fogelnest on this journey through his personal vaults as they watch and comment on clips of awesome dudes like Glenn Danzig and Crispin Glover and total jerks like Jim Morrison and Garfield the cartoon cat. Episode highlights include Fogelnest and Hendren ripping into their mutual enemy Garfield and Hendren recounting how he and his cronies ruined a promotional campaign for Sheets-brand Energy Strips by dogpiling on a contest to force rapper Pitbull to the most remote Walmart in America on a frozen Alaskan island.
Jay: Ari Shaffir’s Skeptic Tank #79 - “We Are Anonymous” with Luke Harder and @Star_Fawkes
The first rule of Anonymous is - you do not talk about Anonymous. The second rule of Anonymous is - you DO NOT talk about Anonymous. To do so would compromise the whole “anonymity” part of it. Due to the importance of maintaining the secrecy of their identities from the government, the internet, and even each other, it is rare for members of this loose organization of like-minded individuals to agree to be interviewed and speak on behalf of the group. That is what makes this episode of The Skeptic Tank so interesting. Most of our opinions of Anonymous are probably shaped by media reports. Here, we get a glimpse into a couple of the minds within Anonymous, as Luke Harder and @Star_Fawkes join Ari Shaffir at The Comedy Store to talk politics, hacktivism, the Occupy movement, and much more. So much is discussed, that I can’t possibly get into it all here. However, what I found most informative is Anonymous sees itself not as a thorn in the side of the government and corporations, but as a cross between protectors of the First Amendment, the internet police, pranksters, and Batman. If you have any preconceived notions of Anonymous, you should listen to this podcast. They are probably not what you expected. But you should expect them.
Joel: The Long Shot #523 – “The 100th Episode”
Episode #100 for The Long Shot sees the four hosts reaching a podcasting milestone and discussing “milestones.” It’s both hilarious and endearing to see Sean Conroy, Jamie Flam, Amber Kenny and Eddie Pepitone fumble their way through the sharing-is-caring time. Checking-in is highlighted by the return of Pepitone from his United Kingdom travels, still full of bluster and a bit of confusion on the source and details of the bluster. The early highlight is Flam running through a random and vague list of items for his checking in. Of course, anger-at-the-ready, Conroy and Pepitone can’t help themselves from sharing their frustration with Flam and his bike anecdote and other random list items. A slow clap for episode #100 featuring the now-acclaimed and always fun “let’s get frustrated with Jamie Flam being awkward” segment. More awkward fun comes the way of Kenny recapping her impromptu boss lunch. Throughout, Conroy continues to up the anger, while pushing the show and the fun forward. Always a remarkable feat. The in-apartment audience and listener Q&A segment break up the in-fighting and awkwardness, letting the hosts warmly take stock of their oddball pairing. It’s a sweet counterpoint to the always-fun group chaos of The Long Shot.
Marc: Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast – September 24th
What is the essence of a podcast? In a world where you can get an earful of someone talking about anything from orangutans to orangeade, comedian Bill Burr boils the podcast down to its essence: one man, one microphone. While the talented monologist has occasionally had a visitor on his show, by and large the MMP features Burr alone in his apartment – usually in LA but sometimes, like this latest installment, in New York – just rambling from subject to subject. No snappy opening music, no cutaways, just the once-in-a-while live spot from a sponsor. The rest of the show is pure Bill Burr. As he moves from topic to topic, seemingly at random, his voice periodically slides up and down the register to hint at different characters that mostly hail from somewhere in Massachusetts. Most recently, he rambles about the conspiracy topic of FEMA camps, then how NYC Mayor Bloomberg may be warning us all that 90% of the population is doomed by the fact he put seats into Times Square, and lands on how he’s been on his own on the road and has nothing to talk about. After improvising a song about hookers based on “Luck Be a Lady” from Guys And Dolls, a major chunk of the September 24th show is devoted to answering advice from his listeners, as if it’s normal that people appeal to a standup comedian for love and guidance. Given the fact that Burr is pretty consistent when it comes to dropping his weekly pod, and that the show maintains a high and even level of humor, it’s surprising the Monday Morning Podcast hasn’t been snapped up by one of the emerging comedy podcast networks yet.
Roger: Who Charted? #95 - Zach Galifianakis, Scott Aukerman
It’s always fun to hear Zach Galifianakis talk about pop culture. The comedian has always been very honest about what he considers to be a quality product and what is absolute garbage, even after becoming famous enough to appear in popular but artistically suspect works of cinema. (Galifianakis, in the Comedians of Comedy documentary, wishing a bomb would destroy Hollywood before explaining with joy that the Fox drama he had been in for the previous two years with Eliza Dushku had just been cancelled is my favorite example of this.) Also, The Hangover star doesn’t appear on podcasts that often, busy both with movies and spending time on his farm, where he claimed on the podcast that one of his donkeys had just given birth. In fact, he’s been so busy and off the radar that it wasn’t until this episode of Who Charted? that the man had heard “Call Me Maybe”, which seems downright impossible and deserving of some sort of medal. And while he didn’t like it, Zach did share surprisingly positive thoughts about other pop singers, lest the man come off as a one dimensional joyless curmudgeon. Hosts Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack kept the charts moving and interesting, Galifianakis ranted about the practicality of his beloved Subaru, and Scott Aukerman made a somewhat surprising physical appearance after the guest specifically called him out for needlessly making fun of Subarus to him over the past few years. It was kind of like that time Johnny Carson wandered over to the live set of Don Rickles’ sitcom that was filming across the street to give him the business about the broken cigar box, only cooler since it happened more recently and a lot less people know about it. I’d dare say it’s #2 on the “Unexpected Walk-on Cameo on a Podcast” chart, just behind that time the real Ice-T confronted Paul F. Tompkins on Aukerman’s podcast about his Ice-T impersonation in a weird dream I wish I once had.
Samantha: Here to Help #49 - Connor Ratliff and Cathryn Mudon
This week on Here to Help, Connor Ratliff and Cathryn Mudon stop by to share some stories, solve some problems and dole out practical advice (like, why you should never fall asleep on a train, or how gift certificates can help make a mugging slightly less terrifying). The first two-thirds of the show are spent getting to know our guests, from Mudon’s childhood in the Colorado hometown of historical wonder Mike the Headless Chicken to Ratliff’s fear of child bullies. The pair star in ”I’m Too Fragile For This,” a ”loosely scripted” web series capturing conversations between friends that’s equal parts heart-aching and beautifully honest, and their zeal for exploring the less exciting parts of adulthood makes them perfect for a podcast centered on personal conflict. While the submitted questions about awkward kids and disinterested husbands elicit plenty of punchlines, Ratliff and Mudon manage to get some thoughtful tips in, and their friend chemistry makes the episode an especially fun one.
This Week in the Splitsider Podcast Network:
Every month, The Sequel Machine recruits 25 writers to write the sequels for film’s biggest franchises one page at a time. The catch is, the writers only get to read the page before theirs in a round-robin, exquisite corpse style. The end result is a hilarious, twisted, and as coherent as any misquided Hollywood sequel. This month: Dark Knight 4. Performed by: Adam Bozarth, Dan Chamberlain, Matt Little, Anna Rubanova, Jeremy Bent, Michael Hartney, Kevin Hines, Jim Santangeli, and Brett White.
David Smithyman wanted to lay low and avoid attention, to pass as a phantom over the choppy waters of an awkward adolescence, but the universe had other plans. One second David Smithyman discovers he’s gay while attending an Australian boy’s school, the next he’s adopting a runaway fallopian tube and politely asking Jeeves about bully porn. It’s never a good time, David. David Smithyman, storyteller and stand-up, told his story at the stand-up and storytelling show My High School Boyfriend Was Gay at the UCBeast theater. David Smithyman, know him, love him, book him at davidsmithyman.com.
This week, Nikki and Sara report from sunny LA where they’ve been busy killing on Conan, writing for the Creative Arts Emmys, and tackling their first red carpet. Soon Rider Strong drops in and describes life in the 90s when you’re deluged by fan mail. You may know Rider best as Shawn Hunter from Boy Meets World, but nowadays he’s a full-fledged DIY director and a successful one at that: he and his brother are currently developing the feature version of their TriBeCa Film Festival-featured short The Dungeon Master. Rider explains how and why he worked to break out of an easy typecast rut and transition to a more creative and meaningful career. The conversation later veers from favorite modern TV to kissing for an audience, but it all just works on this brisk and positive episode.
This week on The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show, Jeff sits down with Jay Levey, Weird Al’s manager for over 30 years. In addition to managing one of the most unique and successful artists in pop music history Jay, atypically for a manager, collaborated with his client creatively. He has directed many of Al’s music videos including Eat It and cowrote/directed the stone-cold classic UHF. In this episode Jay talks about how he discovered Al, the first time they had to approach an artist for permission to parody their song, and of course UHF.
On “It’s That Episode” Craig Rowin (UCB Theatre) invites guests over to watch any episode of any TV show they want. They discuss the episode and other crap. Will Hines (The Stepfathers) stops by Craig’s apartment to watch Kolchak: The Night Stalker, a show that was terrifying to him as a child. Experience vampire prostitutes! A script written by David Chase pre-Sopranos! A list of Will Hines’ most watched shows of the 1970s! And the dad from Murphy Brown!
This week the guys decide to take a look at three products defining the future of technology: The iPhone 5, MakerBot and Google Glasses. Before anything of substance is discussed though some housekeeping takes place in the form of Tim being admonished for last week’s episode and Steven Tyler leaving the show. Later Tim is compared to a low-rent Watson who can’t wait an extra day for his iPhone 5 to arrive, followed by discussion of texting via morse code and the time Tim was stuck up in the crow’s nest of a cruise ship.
Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.
Roger Cormier is great at speed Kierkegaard trivia.