This morning at the gym (yeah, I work out ALL THE TIME, so what) I decided to give a non-comedic podcast, Radiolab, a spin. Within 20 minutes they were talking about this guy who gave thousands of people AIDS and I was almost crying on the elliptical machine (OK, fine, I was lying about my exercise frequency). Friends, learn from my mistake and listen to these funny fun-time podcasts instead:
In a podcast world overrun with chat and interview shows, it’s nice to see something different pop up. UCB Theatre co-founder Matt Besser’s brand new improv podcast, improv4humans, is a perfect addition to the Earwolf network’s lineup and a great showcase for the improvisational abilities of Besser and this week’s guests, Andrew Daly, Chad Carter, and Sean Conroy, who have all been honing their improv chops for decades now and perform weekly at UCB L.A.’s flagship show ASSSSCAT. The first installment of improv4humans is sharply edited and never drags, with Besser and company staying lively and funny throughout. improv4humans is just about the closest thing you can get to a UCB improv show if you don’t live near the theatres in New York or L.A., and it’s a great introduction to UCB’s brand of comedy for those outside those two big cities who have been reading about UCB for years and for shut-ins who do live in New York or L.A.
ELI: Left Handed Radio Episode Eleven — “I Remember I Couldn’t Sleep”
The only problems with this episode of Left Handed Radio is that it isn’t 1000x longer and there is no ham sandwich version that can be ingested so that it’s comic insanity may reside within the blood stream. The greatness of LHR lies not only in its wonderfully absurd writing and performances, but in it’s polished production. Building theatres in minds, they are. This was another sketch packed episode replete with a robot host and ads for medications to “help you be the best asshole you can be” but two sketches will cause listeners to look like a crazy, laughing person whilst walking down the street. The first is a conversation between two adults bemoaning the nuances of adulthood and the existence of fucking corded phones. The second is a scoutmaster’s song about being a man with dashing shoulders and room filling authority.
JESSE: How Was Your Week with Julie Klausner #36 — “HWYW LIVE”: Fred Armisen, Billy Eichner, Paul F. Tompkins, Jackee, Ted Leo, Anthony Atamanuik, John Gemberling, Jessica Chaffin
The first ever Live How Was Your Week ended with a fake roast of Miranda July. The roasters included Filmed Blowjob Receiver/Director Vincent Gallo (Anthony Atamanuik), Fat Guy/Playwright Neil LaBute (John Gemberling), Drunk/Actress Lorraine Bracco (Jessica Chaffin), Human Centipede Director/Grade-A Creep Tom Six (Fred Armisen), “The Twist” Singer/ “The Twist” Singer Chubby Checker (Billy Eichner, in a wonderful call-back to his appearance in HWYW Episode 2), and Julie as Owner of Elaine’s Restaurant/Dead Jew Elaine Kaufman. Read that list again. Seriously, read that list again. It is the most specifically Julie Klausner assemblage of people imaginable. This is what made the episode, and has made the podcast in general, such a joy; it’s the pure manifestation of Julie’s comedic voice. The episode felt less like a straight adaption of the podcast and more like Julie’s version of a late night talk show if the network was also run by Julie and all the viewers were going to be Julie.
JOEL: You Had To Be There #42 — Paul F. Tompkins
Worlds collide. Podcast guest extraordinaire, Paul F. Tompkins, weasels his way into an apartment visit with Sara Schaefer and Nikki Glaser on the latest You Had To Be There. Schaefer kicks off a spirited and fun string of audition horror stories. Just a few of the gems: the hamburger threesome voice-over and Tompkins explaining the art of the three-tiered Nutrageous audition (“really go for it,” “just lose your mind!” and “do whatever you want!!”). Tompkins kicks off some on-and-off again shit-talking by playfully going after Paul Scheer and Pete Holmes for their past un-ironic kale talk on the show. Like any good You Had To Be There, there’s a healthy amount of bouncing back and forth between honesty and hilarity. Schaefer explains why she has the worst friends. Glaser gets into her extreme childhood stage fright, including the classic revelation of needing to do her school presentations in the dark (glow-in-the-dark dioramas aplenty). There’s some great insight into Tompkins’ character work, including some fun riffing on inappropriate time and place for practicing. The group laments getting yelled at. Then, the episode basically climaxes with a crazy fun and inspired gotcha moment orchestrated by Tompkins. He confronts Schaefer about a past episode dig and all hell breaks loose – complete with an audio playback. The entire time, Glaser giddily goads him on. Very real and funny as hell. An episode worthy of the show title, indeed.
MARC: Cinematic Method — Preview: Twilight, Happy Feet 2
Weathering bad reviews of the “hottest” films coming out is one thing, but to have to worry about reviewers raking the TRAILERS over the coals?! The movie industry is SO screwed. Cinematic Method is a very specific micro-meta approach to sifting through the drivel and glop that is the majority of today’s “cinema” (a term the industry chooses to treat loosely). Chris, Gerry, and Kyle—no last names given—judge upcoming films strictly on the merits of their trailers, then make their best guesses as to what the films’ rankings will be over on the Rotten Tomatoes website. This week’s installment looks at the upcoming releases of Breaking Dawn, latest in the Twilight “saga”; and Happy Feet 2, sophomore entry in the animated penguin “epic”. With no bio info on the hosts on CM, there’s no way of telling what comedy background (if any) they have. Perhaps one or more has some improv chops. All I can tell you is that their ill-informed knowledge of most of the films they talk about makes for pretty entertaining listening. And they stake everything based on what they glean from the trailers. Only one of the trio has even seen the earlier installments of the Twilight series and his knowledge of characters and events is sketchy at best. And their side tangents continue to get funnier as the episodes pile up. Usually clocking in at less than a half hour, CM is a fun and breezy way to help decide whether anything coming out of Hollywood these days is worth your hard-earned dough.
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Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.
Eli Terry writes for the house UCB sketch team Gramps. He is on Twitter with few followers.