It’s TV sweeps season, ya’ll. It’s the time when networks do their best to woo our eyeballs and earholes. What have you been watching? Nothing?! So, you are saying that you’ve completely abandoned all visual mediums for all podcasts all the time? High five! Here are our picks for this week’s notable TV substitutes.
BRADFORD: The Todd Glass Show #31 – Paul F. Tompkins, Daniel Kinno (Part 2)
One of the disadvantages of being a huge comedy nerd and consuming a lot of comedy is that I’ve seen so much hilarious stuff that it takes something extra special just to provoke even a simple laugh out of me. That’s why I was surprised to find myself unable to restrain my laughter at certain moments in the second part of Todd Glass’s Paul F. Tompkins episode — particularly the bit where Tompkins is impersonating a cartoonish immigrant juice bar owner. To make matters worse, I was in public when the episode caused me to convulse with laughter — an embarrassment any serious podcast fan knows all too well. While the episode is full of trivial but hilarious bits like this, Todd Glass and Paul F. Tompkins also veer into more serious territory, thoughtfully conversing about the Joe Paterno scandal and “the Marc Maron situation,” which is how Glass prefers to refer to having coming out as gay. Todd Glass says towards the end of the episodes that this is his perfect show because he loves “to be silly and then be able to talk about shit. I love going back and forth.” There are few shows that can bounce between these two opposite sides of the spectrum as naturally and effectively as this one.
JESSE: It’s That Episode #5 – Adam Lustick
Craig Rowin is known for tricking the Internet into thinking he was going to be given one million dollars as a result of just asking for it on YouTube and is the current Head Writer for Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Seemingly, the only thing Rowin loves more than the giving of one million dollars is television. It’s That Episode is a podcast not unlike How Did This Get Made? but for those who hate-love/love-hate bad television. Rowin and his guest — this week it’s Punk’d/Harvard Sailing Club’s Adam Lustick — talk about what they remember about the show, then take a break to watch the episode, and finally comeback to thoroughly mock it. The reaction this week, like most so far, is very negative. Rowin and Lustick watch an episode of the seminal and pioneering Nickelodeon show, Hey Dude. And guess what? The HD doesn’t hold up. Who would have guessed? I agree, everyone. Anyway, the two frantically make fun of the show like it’s going out of style. Hey, it’s a great new podcast, dude. (Sorry. No I’m not.)
JOEL: The Nerdist #167 – Conan O’Brien
Conan O’Brien visiting audio nerd land with Chris Hardwick and pals isn’t necessarily the most obscure episode choice. Still, O’Brien is one of the few high comedians more willing to talk shop and get silly. The episode doles out a bunch of quality detailed revelations about O’Brien’s comedic relationships with guests and coworkers and how the day-in-day-out comedy grind shapes the show and even O’Brien’s own psyche. Chris Hardwick steers the conversation effortlessly, making it a breezy listen. As always, Jonah Ray is on point for several great comments and comedic tags. Matt Mira follows suit with a few quality asides, as well. There are a few fun faux antagonistic moments between O’Brien and Hardwick’s pals — probably not enough, though. During the 90-minute laid back talk, O’Brien is affable and neurotic, coming across like a sharpened version of his on-screen self. The real gems of the episode are just O’Brien opening himself up — both his distant and recent past — and putting on display his passion for comedy writing and entertaining.
MARC: Probably Science #7 – Kyle Kinane
Comedians Matt Kirshen, Brooks Wheelan and Andy Wood have teamed up and created a podcast in the model of Earwolf’s Professor Blastoff. Namely, it’s a trio of comics who really like sciency things but who have no actual formal training in any branch of science beyond some basic school biology classes. Unlike the crew on PB where each episode is about a specific topic, the Probably Science guys ramble around the web and pull stuff out of the news that has a scientific bent. In this, their seventh episode, comedian Kyle Kinane not only joins them for the show but goes all in, often steering the discussion. Kinane is as enthusiastic and yet as scientifically clueless as the hosts themselves. From airing dirty laundry on former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to naming the return of the supercontinent once known as Pangea (ideas floated out included Gunga Din, Van Halen, and SuperWorld), these guys really have a good time — and it’s infectious. Couldn’t help myself from laughing at numerous points in the show. Ever hear about mating balls made up of writhing snakes?? Where does beefalo come from? How about lakes that fart and kill people for miles around? These are just a few of the subjects they dig into, plus hotel survival tips. (Did you know you can make sorbet out of orange juice, two ZipLock bags, ice and salt?) Science is as good a topic as any comedians to riff on, as proven by these gents even this early in the podcast’s development.
Roger: How Did This Get Made? #30 – Brian Huskey, Vanilla Ice
Credit should be given to How Did This Get Made?’s Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas for showing restraint and not going for the low hanging fruit that is Cool as Ice until their thirtieth episode. Released (or escaped amIaccurate?!) in 1991, Vanilla Ice’s ninety one minute music video more than warrants the three hosts and guest snarker Brian Huskey to shout various fragmented questions that begin with “What was” or “I mean what” and excited, liberal usage of the word “literally” to describe the mess they forced themselves to watch. As the discussion progressed the four comedians began to soften and actually praised Ice’s persona, arguing that in the scene where he wakes up a woman he just met by feeding her ice in her bed (not a euphemism) wasn’t as horrifying as it could have been. Yay! Their positivity makes sense when in the final ten minutes of the podcast the four actually interview Vanilla himself about the future member of the Criterion collection (and we all know how sensitive the man can be). Ice is predictably unashamed of the promotional film, and the fact that he was 19 when he made it almost makes it forgivable. That and the fact that the compost that was Cool as Ice (available on Netflix Instant) was capable of growing into some sort of beautiful metaphorical garden of humor from Scheer and crew.
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Jesse David Fox is a freelance writer, cat person, and Jew (in that order). He lives in Brooklyn. His iPod is broken.
Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.