Did you know that when the subway conductor announces there is a “sick passenger” on the train, they actually mean dead passenger? No? Me neither. I didn’t even know they ever announced such a thing because my ears are usually voluntarily inundated with the chitting and chatting of comedians. You too? I knew it. Well, since you are alive and we are alive, how about we tell each other our favorite podcasts of the week.
BRADFORD: Totally Laime #88 – Matt Besser!
There was no better guest choice for Totally Laime’s first podcast on the Earwolf network than Matt Besser, the host of The Earwolf Challenge, the podcast competition show on which host Elizabeth Laime earned Totally Laime a year-long contract with Earwolf. Laime, Besser, and Laime’s husband/sidekick Psychic Andy discussed the aftermath of the competition for a bit before jumping into a fun and freewheeling conversation about a variety of trivial topics, including vanity plates, receiving negative comments on the Internet, and homeless teenagers. Like the best Totally Laime episodes, this one serves as an in-depth portrait of the guest, and listeners will certainly get to know Matt Besser better by the end of the hour. Besser talks about the time he was spurned by a pair of street performers from his hometown when he excitedly recognized them in L.A., the fact that he has no problem with the legalization of polygamy and incest, and how his grandfather was run out of town by the Jewish mafia over a pinball machine rental discrepancy.
ELI: On Cinema # 2 with Tim Heidecker – The Shining
One of the most super fun activities a person can do is to try explaining to someone why Tim Heidecker (and Eric Wareheim) are funny. Especially someone that has expressed displeasure for their particular brand of funny. Or try explaining why to your mom. You will not sound like a psychotic person at all. Specifically, describe to them Tim Heidecker’s new podcast, On Cinema. Tell them it is supposed to be a crappy podcast that only clocks in at 2 minutes and 39 seconds. That the shortness is a joke unto itself. Point out that when Heidecker and guest Gregg Turkington talk about Stanley Curbrick, er, Kubrick’s The Shining they are being purporsely, hilariously vague with their plot description (“Um, it deals sorta with para…paranormal activity…um, in a hotel…uh.”). Try to make them understand that it takes a special comedic gift to design a podcast logo so comically horrible while also describing The Shining as, “Very well made, y’know, for a horror movie. It was very well made, very high quality.” Say all these things to this hypothetical person and/or your mom and hopefully they’ll humor you. Your mom probably won’t. She sucks. Then shrug your shoulders and come back over here with the rest of us weirdos that like this kind of stuff.
JESSE: Thrilling Adventure Hour Episode #42: Beyond Belief - “White Hunter, Drunk Heart” – Paul F. Tompkins, Paget Brewster, Scott Aukerman, Dana Gould, Chris Hardwick, Patton Oswalt
This week marks the Thrilling Adventure Hour’s first week being distributed under the Nerdist Industries umbrella. And smartly they kicked it off with their best (and also longest running) serial, Beyond Belief. It is a podcast so they appropriately put their Paul F. Tompkins-foot forward. In addition to PFT, the episode was studded with comedy stars, podcast stars, and comedy podcast stars Scott Aukerman, Chris Hardwick, Dana Gould, and Patton Oswalt. Yet it was Paget Brewster, who plays PFT’s better half, Sadie Doyle, that completely owns this scene. Sadie is a lush and a handful, a loving wife who’s not afraid to crack a whip. She would’ve been a Barbara Stanywck character if there were computers and wireless Internet and iPods/iPhones/Droids/Zunes in the 1940s. But there weren’t any of those things so instead we luckily have Brewster who plays the character with aplomb and a seriously hilarious voice. The very funny episode’s funniest moment came from Sadie simply listing the names of safari animals she wants to hunt in her wonderfully ridiculous transatlantic accent—it’s hard to explain, you have to just listen for yourself. Extra points were awarded for the undeniably winning opening number, “Here’s to Us”, joyfully sung by PFT and Ms. Brewster.
JOEL: The Little Dum Dum Club #54 – Paul F. Tompkins
The Australian dynamic comedy duo of Tommy Dassalo and Karl Chandler offer up a new Los Angeles themed episode, featuring podcast guest supreme, Paul F. Tompkins. A fun colliding of podcast worlds, indeed. The guys are in Los Angeles, which means the show is heavy on Hollywood observations. Tommy and Karl recount their “dum dum” travel misadventures. Tompkins offers up not-really-all-that-useful Los Angeles tips and insights. There’s talk of “disco world” and odd celebrity lunch combos. Tommy and Karl explain their commitment to a hamburger-only Los Angeles diet and a harrowing strange-mother lap sitting incident at a local bar. There’s also a fun bit of Halloween riffing, including an instant classic Tompkins Trick or Treat bit. As usual, it’s another free form blast of Little Dum Dum fun. Perhaps most importantly, we all get to learn the mystique of yearning for Grace Jones to call you “magical.”
MARC: Affirmation Nation with Bob Ducca – Episodes #79-84
Some podcasts, like This Week with Larry Miller, are meant to be taken much as a meal: long, savory bites of well-constructed prose and fragrant rambling reminiscings. Others, like Affirmation Nation, are short, quick hits that go down like handfuls of peanuts from that dish while you’re waiting for dinner. Improv and sketch comedian Seth Morris has found the perfect framework for “Bob Ducca”, his perennially sad sack, woebegone character who is divorced, apparently homeless and rife with every malady known to man (and some animals.) This does not stop him from offering hopeful, hapless advice for those in need. Episodes this week cover a variety of topics, ranging from Bob’s Favorite Pies (“I believe that pies are a feel-good food, that do more than just nourish the body – they nourish the soul.”) to Culturally Specific Ailments (From his own list: East River Shivers, Lake Superior Inferiority Complex, and Panamatism, as well as many others). Episodes run from about two to four minutes and they’re amazingly entertaining.
Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.