Kurt Braunohler Tells a Tale on ‘Risk!’, Adam McKay and Chris Gethard on ‘improv4humans’, and More

Advertising. What do we think? It’s nothing new for podcasts of course. We all listened to our free Audible audiobook and bought a plethora of discounted vibrators from Adam & Eve. And obviously we more than welcome the Comedy Bang! Bang! TV show promos. BUT what about the Pepsi Next ads that popped up during the Earwolf shows recently? They weren’t obtrusive as much as they made you pause and think, “Hey, that’s a Pepsi ad. Say whaaaa?” It was decidedly weird but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Let me revise: it’s weird and it’s right. Just as the ad for It’s My Boy below is needed for you to read this current sentence, bigger advertisers are needed to sustain your preferred commute distraction. What I’m saying is go see It’s My Boy and while there, drink a Pepsi Next – it’s the next thing in cola. Below are the next things in podcasts.

BRADFORD: Risk! #329 – Kurt Braunohler

This week, Kevin Allison’s storytelling podcast Risk! delivers a bite-sized extra installment composed of just one story from Kurt Braunohler, New York-based comedian and host of the new IFC comedic game show Bunk. Braunohler’s tale, about the end of a friendship and a difficult relationship, is a rather serious one, but it’s nice to know the comic can speak openly about a low point in his life while balancing it out by peppering in plenty of funny details and witty asides throughout. Braunohler deftly uses the Far East Movement’s “Like a G6” – an “aggressively stupid song,” as he calls it – to punctuate the story multiple times, and it’s an effective method of relating his story and eroding the tension contained within. This is a different side of Kurt Braunohler most fans probably aren’t used to, but his wit and unique perspective shine through, even when he’s straying closer to drama than comedy.

JAY: Big O and Dukes – “Summer Brew Preview”

The world of comedy podcasts was by in large created by the Great Format Flip of 2009. I don’t mean “great” in the positive sense, but in reference to the scale of the operation. The powers that be decided the hot talk format was no longer profitable enough for terrestrial radio and talents such as Adam Carolla were shown the door. The Big O and Dukes Show fell victim as well when Washington, DC’s heritage talk station WJFK flipped to sports. But Chad Dukes and Oscar Santana, along with producer Drab T Shirt (Matt Cahill), refused to let the show die like Maximus on the floor of the Coliseum. They went into their bunker and re-emerged with a leaner, meaner version of their radio show. The format basically revolves around the lives of the two hosts. Chad loves video games, beer, guns, and wrestling. Oscar loves CrossFit, bottle service, foreign cars, and jet-setting around the country. You wouldn’t think they’d get along. But they (and Drab) don’t let their disparate interests get in the way of their friendship and that comes through on the podcast. Today’s episode is devoted to (as Homer Simpson appropriately said) the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems: alcohol. It’s the Summer Brew Preview. The trio along with the owner of a local wine shop taste and rate an octet of summer beers. Some of the other topics discussed as the beers flow are: the trend of microbrews in cans, Storage Wars, and Duck Dynasty. If you are looking to try a new beer and enjoy hearing a diverse group of friends making fun of each other, give this podcast a listen. Once you get hooked on The Big O and Dukes there will be no need to ask: “Are you not entertained?!”

JESSE: improv4humans #29 – Adam McKay, Chris Gethard

This episode starts with a particularly long discussion that might cause you to scream, “Get to the make ‘em ups already!” But be patient because all that debate over Carmelo Anthony and The Avengers perfectly feeds back into the scenes. There should be no doubt it would with Adam McKay and Chris Gethard as the guests. I’ve said it before but one of the coolest parts about listening to i4h is seeing (well, hearing) the foundation of some of the current comedy geniuses that got their start with improv. There are few comedians as successful as Adam McKay and in this episode it’s apparent why. Adam in basically every scene would vocalize the setting, ostensibly creating the universe in which comedy is created. A principal’s office quickly became a Miami Vice kingpin’s lair. These moves tend to instantly escalate the shit out of the scene and they are especially affecting because it’s an all audio podcast. Not to mention he was one half of frightening duo made up of Mark Ruffalo and Carmelo Anthony’s sons. Here is where I praise Chris Gethard. That man can play an overzealous thug like no other. The impact of which is multiplied by the fact that the listener can’t see him. Because of Matt Walsh’s unexplained absence, the show ended up being the first ever improv3humans; however, it didn’t matter because of who the three humans were.

JOEL: Superego 3:13

The futuristic and retro, all-at-once, audio sketch show delivers another absurd episode, bursting at the seams from an abundance of silly situations and insane non sequiturs. Superego 3:13 is another quick-hitting example of inspired comedy. The guys treat us to another “Star Wars Squadron” radio talk clusterfuck. During the stream of Star Wars riffing, there’s another dead-on Alec Guinness impersonation with an obnoxious guest appearance by Obi-Wan’s needy and instructional ghost. The night out with Shunt McGuffin and Herve Villechaize is an overload of inappropriateness. The Buffrum’s Fragrance Counter ladies show up again, staying oblivious and gleefully rude to all customers. Another bit of inspired comedy is born from the Leffingwell Grocers grocery store announcement speaker system. The Superego guys find another great audio-specific setting for streaming more absurd characters to your brain. Bonus points for the pop music interludes during the grocery store announcements. The unofficial Superego team member at this point, Paul F. Tompkins, continues to be one of the most versatile performers in comedy. Superego is always an open house for great performers. In addition to Tompkins, this month’s guests include Andy Richter, Gillian Jacobs, Erinn Hayes, Chris Tallman, James Bladon, Craig Cackowski, Mark Gagliardi, Nick Ciarelli and Amanda Lund. Again, Superego, is on its own planet comedy-wise and continues to outshine its modest podcasting roots. It’s short but packed with great comedic work. Few projects consistently deliver like this obnoxious and inspired bit of gold. Go Superego Go.

MARC: Chillpak Hollywood Hour #264 – French Stewart

What exactly is a “comedy podcast”, anyway? Is it one hosted by a comedian, or a show featuring comedians as guests? Sketch or improv performers? Or even just some dudes sitting around BS’ing with each other? All of the above? I’m throwing the Chillpak Hollywood Hour onto the heap. Reason Number One being that it is co-hosted by Dean Haglund, a standup and improv comedian best known for his role as Langley in The X-Files and its spinoff The Lone Gunmen. Reason Number Two is that his co-host, film director Phil Leirness, has a wickedly funny streak as well. (They’re also been p’casting weekly since 2007.) And they sit around BS’ing this episode with French Stewart (best known for his role on TV’s Third Rock From The Sun) and Jaime Robledo, who is directing Stewart in Stoneface: The Rise And Fall And Rise Of Buster Keaton at a little theater in Los Angeles. I found the whirlwind discussion fascinating, as it ping-ponged between Keaton information and funny background stories from Stewart’s career as a stage, TV and film actor. It was wonderful to see the similarities between podcasting and the world of small theaters: both struggling to maintain a distinct voice while also working hard to find a loyal audience.

ROGER: Making It With Riki Lindhome # 46- Robert Ben Garant

Ben Garant isn’t a person so much as he’s a lean, mean, funny writing machine. One of two people in the entire world that host Riki Lindhome has ever heard say that they actual enjoy the process of writing (Joss Whedon being the other), Garant - along with fellow short shorts wearing Reno 911! star and executive producer Thomas Lennon - has penned a number of films, most notably the A Night At The Museum films. By his own estimation, Garant has written thirty movies in all with the help of his six days a week, eight hours a day writing schedule, which provoked the same reaction from the listeners of her podcast and Lindhome herself: “wow.” So focused was Garant while discussing how the movie sausage is made that he didn’t even acknowledge the awkwardness in uttering the sentence, “Balls of Fury left a bad taste in my mouth.” Despite this, the podcast never felt like a long boring seminar. In fact, for those that don’t want to get motivated by realizing how lazy they have been their entire lives, there’s Garant’s solid twenty minute or so personal take on being a part of one of the greatest sketch comedy shows of all-time. I have heard every installment of Marc Maron’s quest to get all eleven members of The State on WTF, but I never knew how nasty things got for the comedy troupe during the Viva Variety era until the man who once sang to bacon in a suit made of bacon talked about it here. Any listeners looking for juicy gossip will be disappointed to hear that everybody gets along fine now, but the ones who want to get motivated and hear some anecdotes involving a teenaged Michael Ian Black and a young, uncharacteristically cocky Michael Showalter  - which I’m pretty sure is everyone - will enjoy this week’s Making It.

SAMANTHA: Podcast on a Plane (“a co-production of Ari Shaffir’s Skeptic Tank and the Joe Rogan Experience”)

This special episode, not technically a Skeptic Tank nor an Experience, is a delight to listen to but must have been absolute hell for whoever was sitting near Shaffir and Rogan on the flight to Canada they recorded it on. Hopefully, their peers in coach weren’t too conservative, either, since the comics spend time talking about the edibles they enjoyed on the way to the airport; they also discuss Internet conspiracy theories, regrettable post-breakup behavior, jiu jitsu and Joey Diaz. This episode’s as close as you can get to straight up eavesdropping on an organic conversation between two comics (see also: this week’s Marc and Tom Show) — complete with moments of contemplative silence as the weed cookies kick in.

Honorable Mention:

Comedy Bang Bang #161 – Reggie Watts, Tim Heidecker, Andy Daly, Jon Daly

Dream Tweet – Jimmy Pardo vs. Kimmy Gatewood

How Was Your Week #65 – Eddie Pepitone, Paula Pell

The Marc and Tom Show #2  

You Made It Weird #55 – Jenny Slate

Jesse David Fox is a 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.

Jay Kuperstein is a writer, founder of ComedyK.com, and attorney working in Washington, DC.

Joel Mandelkorn is the co-Founder of The Plop List, Producer at CleftClips, Producer of The Super Serious Show.

Marc Hershon is host of Succotash, the Comedy Podcast Podcast and author of I Hate People!

Roger Cormier loves the tacos, but if he had to choose between the tacos and the mail, he’s going to pick the mail

Samantha Pitchel does things for CultureMap AustinHuffPost Comedy and SXSW Comedy.

Kurt Braunohler Tells a Tale on ‘Risk!’, Adam McKay […]