In less than ten days, the rubber will meet its friend the road, and you will have to decide on a New Year’s resolution. You will inevitably abandon said resolution once you remember how boring jogging is. Really jogging, step it up, everyone hates you because you are the pits. Instead pick something easy; maybe take something you already do, say listen to podcasts, and just do it more often. Right? It’s agreed, let’s all remain resolute in our efforts to listen to more podcasts next year. Check out this week’s recommendations for a good place to start!
BRADFORD: The Best Show on WFMU: The 2nd Best Show Holiday Party – Ted Leo, John Hodgman, Jon Wurster
During last year’s Four Loko-fueled Best Show holiday celebration, host Tom Scharpling became so drunk that he blacked out and was unable to finish hosting the show, and that’s exactly why Scharpling decided not to imbibe this time around. That doesn’t mean Scharpling’s guests didn’t crack Four Lokos, with John Hodgman, Ted Leo, and associate producer Mike all sipping from cans of the banned alcoholic energy drink from the stash that Scharpling horded last year before they were taken off the market. The result is a fun-filled, joyous three hours of The Best Show during which Scharpling and his guests took calls, sang holiday songs, and even performed a Christmas pageant based on the show Storage Wars. The Best Show’s second annual holiday bash isn’t the hilarious, edge-of-your-seat near disaster that last year’s Christmas show was, but it’s still an enjoyable three hours that flies by, with the highlights being a call from Jon Wurster, who cycles through many of his beloved Best Show characters, and Tom Scharpling and John Hodgman riffing on a caller’s story about John McCain taking a bite from a stranger’s vending machine hot dog.
JESSE: Comedy Bang Bang #136 – Paul F. Tompkins, Harris Wittels, Brett Gelman, Jon Daly, Seth Morris, Nick Kroll, Thomas Lennon, James Adomian, Adam Pally
I can try to explain how much silly fun this episode was but I was once told a picture is able to say up to one thousand words so just look at the smiling faces of so many of our favorite Comedy Bang Bang guests (also, I’d recommend going to the linked site to check out the epic 11+ minute freestyle rap battle):
Dead Author’s Podcast Appendix A: Charles Dickens and O. Henry – Hal Lublin, Marc Evan Jackson
H.G. Wells interviews Charles Dickens and O. Henry about their famous Christmas stories doesn’t sound like a rip-roaring good time but what if I said O. Henry was absolutely sloshed. Maybe it was the spirit in the air (and the spirits in some glasses) but this episode was a bit more rambunctious than usual. At some point early on H.G. Wells (Paul F. Tompkins) decided he thought O. Henry (Marc Evan Jackson) was a hack and was going to mercilessly mock him to his face, to which O. Henry was drunkenly oblivious. The best moment of the episode, and maybe the funniest moment of the podcast thus far, was the result of a Twitter question asking if O. Henry ever used other pseudonyms. O. Henry responded, “I certainly had a lot” and quick as a cricket’s wink Mr. Wells retorts, “give us a list of ten.” When he got to ten, Wells demanded ten more and then when got to twenty, he demanded another ten. Something about the listing of silly names (Sticky Pickle, Number Six, Wooly Gilford, Number Sixteen, Charles Nelson Reiley) mixed with Wells antagonistically egging him on, had me laughing my Santa Beard off (Oh, should I have mentioned I was listening dressed as Santa? I was. No I wasn’t). Oh yeah, also apparently Charles Dickens is a vampire—it’s a very educational podcast.
JOEL: Jordan, Jesse GO! #204 – Andrés du Bouchet
A couple of guys talking is pretty much the garage band gathering for digital comedy. Let’s hangout and riff, man. Few duos do a better job of gleefully adhering to this laid back and honest approach than Jesse Thorn and Jordan Morris of Jordan, Jesse GO! The Maximum Fun podcasting partners turned in a particularly loose and jovial episode featuring the smart and always affable comedian Andrés du Bouchet (writer for Conan, to boot). Claiming the title of “Count (or Duke) of Cheeseburgers,” Du Bouchet easily saddles in as another one of the guys. There’s a humorously long dissection of what it means to get lost in the video game world of Skyrim. Morris and Du Bouchet confound Jesse with their video game knowledge. Thorn proposes the Mr. T video game avatar should be the only avatar ever needed. The episode keeps it both grounded and silly, sneaking in some quality pop culture tangents. There’s some quality Conan talk, highlighted by the Morris and Thorn’s complete obsession with the mystery of Du Bouchet’s Gravy Boat Lighthouse segment on a recent Conan episode. Analyzing the merits of the 30-second Gravy Boat Lighthouse for minutes at a time pretty much sums up the delirious fun and pseudo-profundity Morris, Thorn and friends can offer up at any given time.
The consolidation of top-notch comedy podcasts into solid portals of humor goodness continues. Starting with their last episode #42, MATES has found a new home, joining Pop My Culture and Tom Wilson’s Big Pop Fun in recently climbing aboard the Nerdist network of shows. In their latest foray into the pantry — just in time for the holidays — Michael Ian Black and Tom Cavanagh review two snacks with a seasonal bent: candy canes and babka (a traditional Jewish treat.) For those uninitiated in the ways of Mssrs. Black and Cavanagh, the picking, eating and rating of snacks pales in comparison to the rollicking banter that flies back and forth between these two buddies. Regardless of how sweet the snacks might be, the conversation tends to get pretty salty, with Black, in particular, always looking to push the envelope in terms of what their crowd might accept from a show about snack foods. MATES, already gaining legions of listeners (or “viewers”, as the hosts often refer to their audience…although they know they’re not viewers…), will certainly become an even more popular offering with the power of the Nerdist network behind them in the new year.
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Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.