This Week in Comedy Podcasts: ‘Happy Sad Confused’ and ‘Denzelishness’

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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. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy.

Happy Sad Confused - Lisa Kudrow

Leigh: While Happy Sad Confused may be one of the podcasts that has moved over to the new Wolfpop network, happy, sad and confused are also all things we’ve felt over the creation, loss and return of The Comeback. Lucky for us, Happy Sad Confused host Josh Horowitz sits down with Lisa Kudrow this week to talk about all of those things. The exceedingly delightful Kudrow shares how the second season came to be, what they originally had in mind for Valerie Cherish in a second season, and how the idea for the show first came about, which includes one very confusing lunch with Michael Patrick King. And don’t worry, Horowitz asks about Friends too. (How could he not?) They go into how Friends was a show that perfected what a sitcom should be, but what Kudrow is drawn to now, in shows like The Comeback and Web Therapy, is working to pick that form apart and create something new. We’ve already waited 9 long years for the second season of The Comeback, don’t waste any more time and listen to this episode. Unless of course you’re watching The Comeback.

Denzel Washington Is the Greatest Actor of All Time PERIOD - The Equalizer

Marc: Podcasting is fast becoming the busman’s holiday of choice for comedians burning downtime between gigs. Case in point: Denzel Washington Is the Greatest Actor of All Time PERIOD. The first episode just dropped this week on the all-new Wolfpop network, the pop culture-driven spinoff from Earwolf. It features comedians W. Kamau Bell and Kevin Avery dissecting and deconstructing every movie ever made that features actor Denzel Washington, all in an effort to demonstrate why their man lives up to this podcast’s title. Bell was the host of his own show, Totally Biased, on FX (and, later, FXX), while Avery has been writing for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (prior to that, he was a staff writer on Bell’s show). The first installment looks at Denzel’s most recent outing, The Equalizer, where he plays a retired lethal spy of uncertain origin who steps form the shadows to help a hooker with a heart of gold. (After this first episode, the hosts will be addressing the Denzel flicks in alphabetical order.) They are unabashed in their mutual mancrush for Mr. Washington and use this opening entry to establish five elements of performance – the “Denzelishness” of his performance from film to film, if you will. Those five include 1) the Denzel walk (his “sideways stroll with the confidence of a man who just had a shot of tequila”, as Bell and Avery put it), 2) humor, 3) the Denzel lip, 4) unaffected badassery, and 5) his trademark move that consists of a sort of George Clooney head wobble coupled with narrowed eyes. With about 33 more movies to go in Denzel’s filmography, it’s still anyone’s guess which of those films will show Bell and Avery’s hero at the height of his Denzelishness.

Too Beautiful to Live with Luke Burbank - Cereal

Elizabeth: Have you listened to recent podcast phenomenon Serial and wished it was less about the shifting perceptions of truth and justice and more about breakfast foods? Too Beautiful to Live is here to help with an episode devoted entirely to cereal, starting with a pitch-perfect parody of the Serial opening, complete with a take off on the MailChimp ad and “previously on” montage (with a prepaid call from Maryland prison inmate Captain Crunch). I found the intro so delightful I listened to it three times. Luke Burbank and Andrew Walsh both choose a cereal to eat during the episode (Grapenuts and Kix, respectively) and share their childhood memories of being deprived of sugary varieties like Fruity Pebbles. This leads to deeper introspection into why we aren’t living out more of our childhood dreams as adults. Shouldn’t we be eating ten candy bars a day and living in tree houses? Luke takes advantage of his adult freedoms by trying Cookie Crisp—a bowl of cereal nearly four decades in the making—and finds that it exceeds expectations. Later Luke’s mom calls in to talk about her milk freezing scheme during his childhood, which involved freezing 50-cent half gallons of whole milk, then thawing them in a kiddie pool the night before, and mixing it in a pitcher before serving, resulting in residual ice chunks in his cereal. By the end, several things are clear: the female cereal mascot glass ceiling still needs to be shattered, never be afraid to haggle at the grocery store, and all podcasts should incorporate the Serial score.

Smodcast #314 - Rogan’s Run, Part 2

Rob: Kevin Smith is famously good at talking. Whether you’re a fan or not, you have to concede that to a man capable – for example – of performing a feature-length Q&A based on the first question. But he mostly rides shotgun on this week’s Smodcast featuring Joe Rogan: one of the only people capable of out-gabbing the filmmaker. In fact, this episode is the second of a two-parter, and with Rogan’s breathless, marathon conversational style, you start to understand why his own podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, sometimes runs north of three hours. But when Smith isn’t in silent awe of Rogan’s accounts of extreme experiences or hyper well-read edgy theories, the two make a great pair. They’re both stoners, they both have a huge curiosity and enthusiasm for ideas, and both have their own particular, hilarious turns of the phrase. And Smith’s talent for drawing “unorthodox” conceptual connections at the end of Rogan’s runs often steers the conversation back towards the comedic, as Rogan can sometimes get a little worked up and serious. Earnest and silly, intellectual and absurdist, intense and easy-going, Rogan and Smith make a great yin/yang podcasting duo. They seem to think so too, since at the end of the episode, it sounds like the two have decided to get together on a semi-regular basis to record a new show.

Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:

Topics with Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter Rebirth

The Indoor Kids Nerding out with Jared Logan

The Transformers 1986 Podcast Episode 1

The Carson Podcast - Paul Provenza

Doug Loves Movies Joe Lo Truglio, Kate Micucci, Ben Bailey, and Rachel Melvin

OMFG #shelby Does the Twitter (w/ Shelby Fero)

Hound Tall with Moshe Kasher Death with Catlin Doughty, Kumail Nanjiani and Chelsea Peretti

WTF Dave Ross

Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.

Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.

Rob Schoon lives in Brooklyn and writes about tech, media, comedy and culture.

Marc Hershon is host of Succotash, the Comedy Podcast Podcast and author of I Hate People!