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 Did This Get Made - xXx: Return of Xander Cage: LIVE! (w/Adam Scott)
Mark: This week the HDTGM gang brings on resident Vin Diesel expert, Adam Scott, to look at the newest entry in the Diesel-verse. Warning: if you’re like me and haven’t seen the movie yet, just listening to it be described can give you a contact acid trip. Between the aggressive techno music, motorcycles that turn into jet skis, and barely legal orgies, I’m willing to bet xXx: Return of Xander Cage doesn’t make much sense whether you’ve seen it or not. I’d like to submit my defense of June, who is attacked by her co-hosts for eating sushi in a movie theater years ago. Sushi is a fine movie theater snack – it’s mostly odorless, you don’t use your gross fingers to eat it, and it’s healthier than your standard theater fare. Anyway, do you think Vin Diesel knows that so many people love his movies for the wrong reasons? As long as audiences are having fun, does he even care? The only people left disappointed by this episode will be the scores of pervs who regularly Google “Adam Scott XXX.” [iTunes]
Don’t Ever Change - Jake Weisman
Leigh: Because you don’t have to know anything about education to make decisions about education anymore, I think I’m qualified enough to say with confidence Don’t Ever Change should be mandatory listening for high school students. Each episode, host John Roy sits down with a comedian and asks them what their high school experience was like. This shouldn’t come as such a shock, but most of the time, their high school experiences weren’t the stuff John Hughes movies are made of. Instead, there’s usually a lot more anxiety and panic, or as this week’s guest Jake Weisman described it, it’s like “a trap that I had to just hold my breath until I could leave.” Weisman describes what it was like to feel misunderstood even by your closest friends, always feeling palpably weirder than everyone around him, and what it’s like when your interests and personality finally line up with what you’re good at. Don’t Ever Change consistently features the best advice, and this episode is no exception. Even though it’s posed as being for high school students, we’re all still always the same anxious and panicky people we were when we were 17, right? [iTunes]
I Was There Too - Marc: It’s a little different story those times that I Was There Too host Matt Gourley scores a guest who had more than a tiny role in a major motion picture. Normally the challenge is to pull enough material out of the small slice of the actor’s perspective on the project to fill the episode. Tom Wilson is Gourley’s most recent guest, and as a key player in not just one but all three of the Back To The Future films there’s ample material to fit the 50 minutes. As Biff Tannen, Griff Tannen, and Buford Tannen, antagonists in the trio of time travel comedy/adventures, he’s developed a point of view in the more than quarter century since they’ve come out. The host talks to him about the near-legendary card that Wilson passed out to anyone who began plying him with questions about the movies, a card crammed with tiny print – a kind of mini-FAQ – so that he could move the conversation along to more productive channels. They delve into the nuances of the performance by castmate Crispin Glover in the first film as George McFly, and the chemistry misfire between the material and Eric Stoltz, the “first” Marty McFly. As Gourley moves beyond the topic of the BTTF films, Wilson talks about other roles, though as much as he’s clearly been a “working actor” as he puts it, his place as multi-generational Tannen baddies will always shine brightly. [iTunes]
Noah: You’ll probably never get Tom Scharpling to rank this installment of The Best Show among his favorites. After alluding to some personal struggles for the better part of 2017, the week’s scheduled in-studio performance and interview with Replacements founder/Guns N’ Roses pillar Tommy Stinson was to be a triumphant return to normalcy. A half-hour into an unassuming program, Stinson cancels by e-mail. And Tom is mad. Things start to look even worse when Jon Wurster calls in and indentifies himself as Replacements Steve, a one-time studio guest who, presumably, was prepared to do a little schtick and grill Stinson on some minutiae in the style of their rare tag-team interviews. Tom’s mood shifts on a dime and listeners are treated to an even rarer unscripted Scharpling & Wurster call. It’s highlighted by Tom making Jon guess the track list to the Guns N’ Roses concert film Appetite For Democracy 3D song by song and an impression of Dizzy Reed, and it caps off with Tom cathartically deleting the new Bash & Pop album from his hard drive on air. For better or for worse, the anonymous historians that Tom has been datestamping his shows for now finally have an unabated look into the process of the greatest pair in phone call comedy. [iTunes]
Star Wars Minute - Minute 73: The Cat
Pablo: Between the so-bad-it’s-good rewatchability of Episode I and the overwrought, yet cathartic, melodrama of Episode III, the dull Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones has always been my least favorite of the prequels. But somehow the guys behind Star Wars Minute have managed to wring a lot of humor out of the prequel trilogy’s 2nd act’s 2nd act, which mostly consists of Anakin and Padme falling in love. Of course, we don’t know they’re falling in love from the wooden acting or B-movie dialogue, but because that’s what we were told years before the movie came out. However, we do know that Anakin’s rat-tail looks exquisite when lit from behind by the Naboo sun. On minute 73 of 142 (not just the worst Star Wars, but the longest!), Pete the Retailer, Alex Robinson, and LA Times journalist Meredith Woerner also dive deep into Uncle Owen’s droid racism. Plot holes are as important to the Star Wars mythology as hokey religions and a good blaster, but given that Owen, played by a young Joel Edgerton, is seen living with C3PO in this installment, it’s odd that he doesn’t recognize the same sassy British unit protocol droid who the Jawas sell him three decades later. The trio also briefly touch on the introduction of Aunt Beru, who Owen refers to as “my girlfriend,” a modern term that always takes me out of the movie. Though not nearly as much as the usage of “That is so wizard!” in The Phantom Menace, which is the equivalent of telling your bro “That shit’s tight” in a galaxy far, far away. [iTunes]
Cynical Cartoons - Jay Oliva Returns!
Marc: There is no shortage of podcasts devoted to cartoons. From Saturday Morning Rewind to RebelTaxi’s Pizza Party Podcast, the animation world is amply covered, but Cynical Cartoons is a refreshing member of that lineup, as host Tyler Marchant mixes up his format, alternating episodes where he and various friends geek out about particular animation projects and genres, to sitting down with folks that figure prominently in the toon world. Last week he spent time with voice actor Debi Derryberry (Jimmy Neutron, F Is for Family) and in the latest installment he second-visits with Jay Oliva. Oliva flips back and forth between directing and storyboarding in the world of toons (Extreme Ghostbusters, The Avengers, Earth’s Mighteiest Heroes) and, beginning with a request by director Zack Snyder, being an in-demand storyboard artist for big action movies like Man of Steel and television (The Flash). Oliva has a deep bench of animation projects to draw from, which gives him ample knowledge to keep up with the many toon geeky references that Marchant pulls from his arsenal. (Marchant also hosts the Adam Sandcast and is the editor of Anna Faris Is Unqualified.) Their conversation is lively and illuminating but having a familiarity with the modern animation kingdom is helpful in weathering some of the references. [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Bodega Boys - GTA: Z
We Got This - Lethal Weapon or Die Hard?
High & Mighty - Bad Boys 2 w/Black Men Can’t Jump
Getting Doug with High - Rosa Salazar & Adam Pally
Denzel Washington Is the Greatest Actor of All Time - He Got Game w/ The Sklar Brothers
Beef and Dairy Network - Lamb Investigation Special
Not Too Deep - Pete Holmes
This Week Had Me Like - Waterfalls by Destiny’s Child
Deep Night with Dale - Greg Hildreth
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.
Mark Kramer is a writer, comedian & human boy from Staten Island, New York, but please don’t hold that against him.