USA Today reported on Monday that all across the country this past Thanksgiving a new tradition was born where families would go around the table and have each guest say which podcast they were most thankful for. Just kidding, USA Today doesn’t report things unless it’s in the form of graphs where the bars are shaped like rocket ships, hardcover books, chicken tenders, etc. If anything, a nice podcast could offer a simple respite during the holidays, away from the constant chitting and chatting that is customary for family members that both haven’t seen each other in awhile and have nothing to say. Here are the podcast we turned to tune out our families:
BRADFORD: The Best Show on WFMU — November 29
The best moments in The Best Show occur when the callers set host Tom Scharpling up with a premise and then step out of his way, and this week’s topic, the “Build a Movie” game, allows for exactly that to take place. With “Build a Movie,” callers give Scharpling a genre and a few actors’ names and then sit back as he spits out an amusing, ludicrous movie premise off the top of his head, with his ideas often seeming like conceivable pieces of Hollywood schlock. Tom Scharpling’s ideas for a Brian Dennehy supernatural baseball movie called Speedball Willie, a Tommy Lee Jones-Kristen Stewart-Aziz Ansari Thanksgiving melodrama, and the James Cameron sci-fi super-flop Zork!are worth the price of admission alone for this week’s Best Show, but you also get to hear Scharpling argue with a 12-year-old about politics, recap his Black Friday DVD spree, and share his take on J. Edgar. This week’s Best Show offers further proof that Tom Scharpling doesn’t need a Jon Wurster call to churn out an entertaining three hour show — even if Wurster’s presence is missed.
ELI: This is That — Episode 22
The tone of This is That, a satirical Canadian public radio program hosted by Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring, is akin to a folksier, more Canada-y version of The Onion. Presented as a Canadian issues call-in and interview show, This is That consists of improvised segments that range from a controversial art installation that’s basically just a dangerous, large copper-lined hole to a small town excited to announce it discovered it has a downtown. The top notch VO acting is presented straight and dry. Very dry. So dry, in fact, that a portion of the show is dedicated to the reactions of real people that call in to comment on stories featured (this week people voiced their opinions on a story from the preceding podcast about a department store banning men from the lingerie section - humorless people were against it). Additionally, the stories all have a distinctly “Canadian vibe” best shown in the two standout segments. One about Statistic Canada fudging “about 10-15%” of it’s findings and the other about the new hot childbirth trend of labor in the wild.
JESSE: Risk! — Gil Ozeri
Remember Halloween after trick or treating but before alcohol drinking, wasn’t it the pits? On this bonus episode of Risk, Happy Endings writer and general comedy world fixture, Gil Ozeri tells a story that both captures this ethos and is completely insane. Not to spoil too much but the story centers around Gil getting his hat stolen and an elderly vigilante. Gil’s a very funny person and so goes the story. However, what was most compelling was how he retold these terrifying events with a sense of nostalgia, which in a way is what Risk is ultimately about. The happy ending (pun!) to so many of Risk stories is the fact alone that they became stories.
JOEL: Walking The Room: Live Cuddle November 18th — Jen Kirkman, Brendon Walsh
The wayward comedy buddies, Greg Behrendt and Dave Anthony, offer up a live episode for fans. Proving the charm and, yes, even the bickering translates into the live arena. The guys jump right into a fun arguing session from the get-go and then we’re off to an hour-plus of inappropriateness. Behrendt joyfully ties together airplane and flatulence anecdotes. Anthony and Behrendt fall into a fun who’s-on-first worthy riff, explaining Tapout to each other. A live show means we get guests. The guys have a ton of fun with both Jen Kirkman and Brendon Walsh, showing how Walking The Room could easily feature guests on the regular. Kirkman quickly gets sucked into dirty talk with the clowns but, as she’s want to do, quickly regains control. Honest through-and-through, she steers the conversation towards memory lane and life on the road with Behrendt. Walsh relays a story truly made for this show – one of he and friends working as drunken clowns for fancy parties back in Austin. Walsh’s obnoxiousness and go-for-the-wrong joke instincts make him a natural partner for Behrendt and Anthony. As a bonus: Marc Maron makes an off-mic appearance, sitting in the audience. Don’t worry – there’s still some family filler, including a one-upmanship of who can mess with their kids the most. All-in-all, it’s just what you’d want from a Walking The Room live hangout.
MARC: Comedy Bang Bang Episode #133 — Patton Oswalt, Chris Tallman
It doesn’t matter how many times host Scott Aukerman teases that this is going to be the interview where guest Patton Oswalt finally reveals all, I always fall for it. In this episode, they start off talking about his new film, Young Adult, in which he appears with Charlize Theron. Sure enough, just as Patton’s about tear the cover off the heart of the movie…into the studio wanders a zany character and CBB is on the express train to Crazytown. Chris Tallman portrays Leslie Schecter, a school teacher of questionable background, training, morals… Well, everything is sketchy with Schecter as it turns out, including his history in Mexico as a notorious character known as El Tigre. How and why he’s found his way into the Earwolf studio is unimportant. These guys love playing off each other and it’s plain to hear that there’s no script for where they’re going or what’s going to happen. Scott, as the host, is the ringleader for the insanity that unfolds but easily steps aside whenever anyone else pulls out the next hilariously tawdry gem. There are a few scattered plugs for Young Adult along the way but it’s clear to see that a visit to Comedy Bang Bang probably isn’t on any studio pr schedule. This is all for fun.
SHAUN: Analyze Phish #3 - Adam Scott
I love to hate Phish! Parks & Recreation writer Harris Wittels and Comedy Bang Bang Host Scott Aukerman once again hold my hand on a journey through the cosmos (Sorry). On this trip, they are joined by Adam Scott (Parks & Rec, Party Down) who unlike Aukerman, can at least tolerate crunchy baselines. And let me tell ya, this episode definitely had some crunchy baselines. Harris played the jams this time around and actually made some progress with his stubborn co-host. I would venture to say that their officially announced Phish concert episode may not be a complete disaster. Of course, the guys are funny as usual. When Harris said, “911 was a far out job,” I laughed like my iPhone just farted at a funeral. “If you like Phish and Dick jokes, you’re gonna love this podcast!”
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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.
Shaun Diston is a Writer/Improviser/Sailor of the Ocean.