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.
How To Be Amazing - Jim Gaffigan
Marc: Michael Ian Black, host of How To Be Amazing, often has writers on as guests. And episode 28 is no different — guest Jim Gaffigan has written two books (Dad Is Fat and Food: A Love Story), not to mention over 20 years of kickass comedy material. He’s also known Black for at least that long. As he relates to the host, Gaffigan took quite a while for his comedy career to get traction. In his mid-20s when he started, he confesses to being very angry to see his peers getting shots on TV and playing the bigger clubs before he could get there. At the same time, he has a life of family stability that most comics must surely envy, to one degree or another. Married to wife Jeannie, who is also his writing partner, and the father of five children, Gaffigan has a terrific family support system that often hits the road with him when he’s touring. Getting from the early days of often mics and hell gigs to where he is today — playing big theaters and venues — took a real desire to push through the noise of everyone else in comedy trying to get ahead. Renowned for being a “clean comic” on a par with someone like Brian Regan helped to set his voice above the rabble. There’s a nice rapport between Black and Gaffigan in this conversation and we get to hear details of the comedian’s life and his thoughts on some topics that haven’t gotten too much exposure before. [iTunes]
Hound Tall - Raves and the History of Electronic Music
Pablo: Like Hound Tall host Moshe Kasher, I attended UCSB, albeit during a time where seemingly every student majored in DJ’ing foundation-shacking dubstep and other bass-heavy EDM. So by time I graduated, my bias against the genre was less about the quality of the music and more about being mad that girls at house parties only wanted to dance to proteges of Steve Aoki. It wasn’t until I read Michaelangelo Matos’ eye-opening historical tome The Underground Is Massive that I gained an appreciation for EDM through its historical beginning as a subculture created by poor gay black teens and 20-somethings that was inevitably co-opted by corporate white America. This music and subculture, something very near-and-dear to Moshe’s heart as a mid-90s raver, is the topic of this week’s Hound Tall featuring comedian guests Ari Shaffir, Chris Cubas, and Phoebe Robinson, alongside Dubtribe Sound System’s Sunshine Jones. In the episode, we learn House and Techno’s roots as disco offshoots following its late ‘70s mainstreaming and how, like blues in the ‘60s and ‘70s, EDM became appropriated and popularized by white British youths before being exported back to the United States. It’s a revelatory podcast for anyone who hears “EDM” and can only think of Las Vegas DJs playing crowds of rich people who paid $700 for bottle service. [iTunes]
Sorry I’ve Been So Busy - Neal Brennan
Marc: What could be a better format for a show for two busy comedy guys than to have other busy comedy people as guests and share what they’ve been so busy doing? Somehow writer/comedians Matt Goldich (Late Night) and Andrew Goldstein (MTV) manage to find the time to not only work on their shows but to get some great guests for their Sorry I’ve Been So Busy podcast. This week they hosted busy writer/comedian/podcaster Neal Brennan. Podcast listeners know him from the late, great podcast The Champs, which he co-hosted with Moshe Kasher. Most recently he’s been appearing in his one-man show (a term he detests) called Three Mics at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre in New York. In addition to explaining the premise of the hit show — Brennan has three microphones on stage and he moves between them, applying a different style of delivery at each mic: traditional standup, one-liners and confessional-style monologues — their guest regales them with the things that tend to keep him busy between showtimes. Explaining that he could never hold down a real sit-at-a-desk-eight-hours-a-day type job, Brennan seems to be constantly on the move, either writing for TV shows, performing comedy, and directing TV commercials (one of which led him to be able to get some free socks). Brennan has no qualms about talking about his bouts of depression, which the hosts try to solve by suggesting he get a puppy because no one can stay down when they have a cute puppy waiting to play with them. The attempt by the hosts to introduce a new segment — “Who Did You Blow Off Recently?” — is hilariously disingenuous because Brennan had overslept and blown off his interview with Sorry I’ve Been So Busy just the week before. [iTunes]
Last Things First - Janeane Garofalo
Elizabeth: This week on Last Things First, host Sean L. McCarthy sits down with comedian and actress Janeane Garofalo. They start by talking about her early career as a college standup, her encounters with Bill Hicks, and why she hates roasts. Like any female comedian doing a podcast, she addresses the tired question of women not being funny, and mentions that she avoids doing shows that are specifically marketed as being all female comics. She provides plenty of advice for young comics—one piece of which is don’t take advice—and talks about the benefits of starting your career in a city other than New York or LA, saving your money once you make it big, and walking away from jobs when you aren’t feeling the material. The most touching part comes towards the end of the episode, when she shares her experiences working with Garry Shandling, and the impact he had on her career. Whether you’re a Garofalo fan, a Shandling fan, or just want to hear someone rage against Kickstarters, the interview is worth a listen. [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Bodega Boys - French Yakub
Making Dad with Chip and Zach - #50
The JV Club with Janet Varney - Alison Bennett
The Jody and Scott Show - Grilled Cheese Etiquette
Ronna and Beverly - Paul W. Downs
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.