This week saw the announcement of the shows competing in The Earwolf Challenge, the first reality podcast, in which 10 lesser-known comedy podcasts (one of which we’ve honorably mentioned before) compete to see who gets to join the AMC (sans The Killing) of comedy podcast networks, Earwolf. Add the fact that Chris Hardwick announced that Todd Glass, Kumail Nanjiani, and Rikki “Garfunkel” Lindhome all have shows soon to be released on Nerdist Industries, and it has been a big week for comedy podcasts. New podcasts with tons of potential are coming out so quickly that it feels like it was years ago we were talking about that hot new show How Was Your Week? when in actuality it was only four months. On the plus side we’ve been forced to do an extra 30 minutes on the elliptical each day to listen to them all. Who said podcasts can’t help your beach body? (No one has ever said that.) This week’s list features only three shows that are over a year old, which shows just how wide open the landscape is.
Top 5 Comedy Podcasts This Week (In alphabetical order)
How Did This Get Made? #14 — Paul Rust
A little over three minutes into talking about Green Lantern, Jason Manzoukis sighs out of frustration, “Ugh, ugh. Look guys, I fucking hated this movie.” And he was the one who actually liked the comic book beforehand. Maybe because of this or despite it, Jason is in rare form in his ripping apart of this atrocity. His highlights include: deciding that the movie was sponsored by LG Phones and Lip Witness, questioning if Blake Lively is intentionally trying to talk like a man, and perfectly summing up the love story as, “He was terrible and she was garbage, and their chemistry was like Canadian.” Eventually, it’s revealed that he walked out before it ended, a distinction previously reserved to only All About Steve. Guest Paul Rust fits in with the gang perfectly, even making the best point of the episode about how every character had this weird ironic detachment like it was a Scream movie, “I wanted one person through out the entire move to go, ‘Hey, I care about what’s going on here.’” He constantly mentioned how much he loved the awfulness, which made him such a great fit. Considering how many podcasts there are that make fun of bad movies, what separates HDTGM? apart is that they so obviously love them.
Jordan Jesse Go #183 — Julie Klausner
It was tough deciding which Klausner-affiliated recording was the best of the week — her own podcast’s interview with the mad genius Tom Scharpling was exceptional as well — but ultimately her appearance on Jordan Jesse Go won out for its oddball appeal. It is not at all unclear after listening to this episode what the mood was like in the studio. After an awkward start when Jesse mispronounces Julie’s last name near the top of the hour, Jordan suggests that they just give up, go get ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, and catch a matinee Zookeeper. This becomes a recurring joke whenever there is (presumably fake) tension throughout the episode. Between Klausner’s tossed off quips (reunited 90s band Cibo Mato are “the human equivalent of Hello Kitty”), a hilarious discussion of Jose Canseco, and a quirky new segment called Straight Talk for Teens, this week’s show is the jewels.
Pop My Culture #47 — Rob Paulsen
Rob Paulsen (not to be confused with the Meatloaf-portrayed Robert Paulson) is best known as The Animaniacs’ Yakko and Pinky of Pinky & the Brain. If you are like us, those credits alone should make you giddy. If so, to answer the first question you probably have, yes, he does “Yakko’s World” and it does not disappoint. Through out the episode he is incredibly gracious and excited to slip into any of his characters. Vanessa is at her most giggly and rightfully so as it’s impossible not to smile at every “NARF!” Sure, Pop My Culture can produce great episodes with the usual suspects (i.e. Paul F., Thomas Lennon), but it is the ability to make classics with the lower IMDB STARmeter ranked folks that really sets them apart.
Thrilling Adventure Hour #27 — “Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars — ‘Danger 2.0’”
The Thrilling Adventure Hour is the podcast version of a monthly live show of the same name that has been going on for over six years in Los Angeles, in which the finest comedic actors perform in the style of “old-time radio.” Written by the team of Ben Acker and Ben Blacker (real names), each program consists of a number of reoccurring shows. “Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars” is one the most popular shows and for good reason. This episode finds our hero, Sparks Nevada (Marc Evan Jackson), at the losing end of a love triangle and in the pit of despair — metaphorically that is, we aren’t talking about some space villain’s trap. With no hope of winning back The Red Plains Rider (Cougartown’s Busy Philips) from his former partner Croach the Tracker (Mark Gagliardi), he creates a holographic simulation of the two. Not to give away too much, we’ll say there is a virus that results in the appearance of The Troubleshooter (Community’s Yvette Nicole Brown). Though it’s always fun, TTAH is a bit too clever for its own good sometimes; however, this episode perfectly pairs the irreverence with some really touching moments.
WTF with Marc Maron #190 — Todd Hansen
“Sometimes it’s not about the funny, sometimes it’s about the sad.” Hansen repeats this phrase of Maron’s multiple times over the course of their two interviews as a sort of artistic mantra. This episode is sad but it’s equally as gripping, touching, inspiring, and, yes, funny. This isn’t Todd’s first time on a podcast; non-comedy podcast fans will recognize his voice from the This American Life piece about The Onion’s headline pitch meetings. The first of the episode’s two interviews, acts as a nice companion piece to that, as Todd edifies Marc on how The Onion became the institution it is now. The second interview then focuses on Todd’s incredible story of his failed suicide attempt. It is not the easiest listen but there’s an undeniable beauty in it. Marc again displays his ability to pry while maintaining a safe and comfortable environment for his guests. His dignified asking of what Todd wrote on the suicide notes was masterful. Still, it is Todd that should be commended for being so honest and frank about such a difficult subject. If you want chuckles, check out this week’s live episode but if you want something more affecting and powerful this is it.
The Morning After…Podcast #49 — Tee Reel and Lauren Ashley Bishop
The Morning After guys rarely have male porn stars on and even more rarely do they have male porn stars on with female comedians. It’s a different dynamic then the usual overly sexual female porn star paints the neurotic comedian into a corner, in which he is both scared and tries to hit on her. Lauren has her share of hang-ups (i.e. an inability to watch any sex scenes, let alone porn) but Tee Reel with his self-proclaimed romantic style of pornography wins her over. By the end she can’t wait to start filming porn (ok, not really porn, just videos of cats popping balloons, but that’s still a start).
Who Charted? #32 — Joe Lo Trugilo
This week’s Who Charted? fans get five charts for the price of one. There is the weekly music and movies chart, the always-fun Chart Goose chart, a bonus odd jobs chart, and a hilarious “Top Five Things for Kids” chart by Sloppy Timmy (SPOILER ALERT: #1 is waterslides AND Pizza). It is a very informative episode; Kulap teaches us who Lil’ Wayne thinks Big Wayne is, Howard reveals the secrets of the knipfing and Joe let’s us in on what they sound like when killed.
Wolf Den #25 — Chris Hardwick
How awesome would it be if there were a podcast from 1892 in which you could listen to Andrew Carnegie talk the steel biz with J.P. Morgan — just two captains of industry discussing the industry they were about to change forever. This episode of the Wolf Den was the comedy podcast equivalent. It’s undeniable that Hardwick’s Nerdist Industries and Ullrich’s Earwolf are two networks leading the way at progressing the medium. There is very little funny in the episode and more businessy-talk; regardless, it is an essential listen for any podcast fan.