Do you guys listen to non-comedy podcasts? There are SOOOO many “comedy” podcasts, it might seem crazy to venture beyond those confines. But venture you should. Podcasts is still a young, ever-changing medium and we can’t expect comedians to carry the entire weight of progressing it. And some are just good and informative in a way that jokes can’t always be. Take a show like The Business, which is rarely funny and not about comedy per se, but is incredibly informative about the world that surrounds the podcasts we listen to. There is an episode where Matt Walsh talks about improvising on television; an episode where the perpetually-cast David Walton talks about auditioning for pilots; an episode where the president of FX talked about Louie. Check out an episode and when you need a laugh or eight, listen to any of the below:
BRADFORD: Totally Laime #130 - Dan Harmon
Dan Harmon’s been extremely busy working on sitcoms for CBS, Fox, and Adult Swim since being ousted from his NBC show, Community, this past May, but he made time to stop by Elizabeth Laime and Psychic Andy’s rented house to tape an episode of Totally Laime last week. It’s not hard to find Dan Harmon talking about his career woes on his blog or his podcast/live show, Harmontown, so Totally Laime’s no-career-talk policy comes in handy and leads us to get to know a different side of Dan Harmon. From Dan Harmon’s fascination with Elizabeth Laime’s sound FX machine to Elizabeth revealing her childhood fear of her dad’s junk popping out of his boxer shorts, this installment of Totally Laime is full of laughs and has a really funny 80s movie finale (suggested by Harmon) that works beautifully.
JAY: Penn’s Sunday School - Billy West and The Naked TSA Guy
You may know Penn Jillette as the speaking half of Penn & Teller or from such celebrity reality game shows as Dancing with the Stars and The Apprentice. What you may not know is that Penn has his own podcast and, as is to be expected from the avowed atheist, its called Penn’s Sunday School. Today’s first guest is master impressionist/voice actor Billy West. For those of us of a certain age, West may be one of the most perfect podcast guests, as he can basically do a one-man soundtrack of our childhood. Some of the impressions Billy does on this episode are: Howard Stern, JFK, Ren, Stimpy, Popeye, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, (Nickelodeon’s) Doug, Philip J. Fry, Dr. Zoidberg, George Jetson, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Zapp Brannigan, and more. Then John Brennan calls in. He is the guy who stripped naked at an airport to protest the security theater of the TSA and was promptly arrested. He tells his crazy story, which Penn and Billy thoroughly enjoy. Finally, a listener calls in with a news story about British Bonobos who communicate using a computer program and another story about a set of apes who were taught a language and passed it down to their children. For anyone who has seen The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, this progress is completely horrifying. I, for one, welcome our new primate overlords. Penn’s Sunday School is a fun listen and way more entertaining than actual Sunday school. Check it out.
JESSE: WTF with Marc Maron #300 – Nathan Rabin, Jesse Thorn, Pete Holmes, Andy Kindler
WTF had its 300 episode this week. The episode wasn’t perfect. It was very self-indulgent. However, Marc has earned it and so has the show’s fans. It’s pleasant to hear people talk about how something you enjoy is great. And it is great. Beyond its own merits, WTF was an entry point to podcasts for a lot of people. However, maybe more importantly, WTF was and is an entry point into comedians. Nothing since Seinfeld has done such an entertaining job of letting people inside the mind of a comedian. To its audience, comedy has become less a combination of jokes and more an artistic practice. And like early Modern Art, comedy is having a revolution as a result of its artists revealing their process in their work. It’s why the biggest laughs at most comedy shows now comes when the stand-up on stage acknowledges a failed punchline to the other comedians waiting in the wings. WTF has changed comedy.
JOEL: You Made It Weird #70 – Rory Scovel
Pete Holmes is on a roll lately with all things comedy: a possible late night TV show in the works, an ascending stand-up career and a soon-to-be podcast institution. You Made It Weird definitely skews into heavy comedy shop talk but it’s usually that good ol’ fashioned soul searching kind. The nitty gritty, the bits and pieces, the stuff that makes anyone give a crap anytime the performer/audience dance is underway. Holmes’ inquisitive nature and honesty really lays the groundwork for his guests to quickly join in on the sharing-is-caring fun. Fellow comedian and off-the-cuff master, Rory Scovel, pushes the limits even in Holmes’ safe place. Scovel starts off messing with Holmes by bringing a guest to the podcast recording, which leads to a fun more challenging back-and-forth for the host. Eventually, Holmes manages to dig into Scovel’s inspired and often free form approach to performing. Beyond his normal riffing hijinks, Scovel’s insightful about his own helter-skelter performing, his recreational activities and his upbringing. It’s a real treat to peak behind Scovel’s devilish antics and see a bit of the passion that sparks his comedy. The episode really soars when the two comedians get into it about how they stay inspired to create and connect.
LINDSEY: How Was Your Week #73 -Simon Amstell, Bobcat Goldthwait
A few years ago I had too much time on my hands and also access to the internet and that led to a whole part of my life that was spent watching old episodes of Never Mind The Buzzcocks and being super obsessed with this kid named Simon Amstell, and not talking about it with anyone. He’s quick and funny and everything you could ever want in a TV (by way of YouTube) crush. As soon as I saw his named attached to this installment of How Was Your Week with Julie Klausner, I knew this was the episode for me. His name, plus Bobcat G. equals the perfect episode in my book. After listening, I found that my crush still remains, that he is just as smart and witty as ever and that I guess I will have to track down a clip of The View– something I thought I would never actively seek out. Both interviews are great. Have you guys seen God Bless America yet? Maybe you should all go rent that, and then find every episode available of Never Mind The Buzzcocks and watch that as well. And then if you live in New York go see Amstell’s show Numb, so I can be jealous of you. Also, Grandma’s House if you can get it. Homework assigned. Get busy.
MARC: Story Worthy #100 - David Koechner
Reviewers will probably re-coin the phrase “this podcast has finally come into its own” every time a podcast hits some kind of milestone episode. For hosts Christine Blackburn and Hannis Finney of the Story Worthy podcast, that’s this week with their 100th episode. The truth is that SW has been in its own for some time now which, in their case, features comedians, writers, actors and other folks stepping up to the mic and relating actual real-life stories without jokes or punchlines (although they tend to be funny all on their own.) David Koechner is their guest for the c-note episode and his improv/sketch chops stand him in good stead as he wades into a tale about attending multiple high school reunions in the tiny Midwestern town of Tipton, Missouri. The recurring theme of said visits was his attempts to get his old buddies to raise their flagging school spirits enough to vandalize a local railroad bridge in the grand tradition of painting “’80 RULES!” to commemorate their class. Each return trip seems more and more pathetic, though Koechner would seem to still retain that old love for his alma mater while no others do. He also knocks it out of the park with his one-minute story (in the show-closing “Shotgun Story Worthy” segment) of having to mix with the great unwashed at the border when he traveled to Canada for work. Story Worthy tends to be as good as its guests and Koechner is a winner. (It’d be nice if the hosts could figure out how to get out of the way of their guests a little more smoothly but, after a hundred shows, maybe it’s just become part of the show’s charm…)
ROGER: It’s That Episode #27 - Eddie Pepitone/My Super Sweet Sixteen
Whoever told host Craig Rowin that it was a good idea for his guest Eddie Pepitone to watch My Super Sweet Sixteen is a genius, and also possibly demented. Pepitone aka The Bitter Buddha, who has on many occasions literally screamed about the social injustices of the world, had never seen the show before. In case you’re unfamiliar (Pepitone would consider you very lucky if you haven’t), Sixteen is an MTV program in which a “narcissistic, entitled”, obsessed with status (Pepitone’s words), downright awful, completely unlikeable (my words) teenager gets her parents to throw her a huge, expensive party celebrating the anniversary of her birth, with an expensive car, yacht, probably in at least one episode a private jet as an extra gift. What was frankly scary, but biting and ultimately funny about Pepitone in this edition of It’s That Episode was the fact that he didn’t scream at all: all of the terrible things he said about the birthday girl and the people responsible for encouraging her behavior by putting the show on the air were spoken in a matter-of-fact tone, implying that everything he was saying was genuine. It was almost like he was going to end a sentence where he claimed Yashika isn’t a human being so much as someone that inhabits flesh and bone and that MTV executives should be killed immediately with “a turkey sandwich with tomato on rye, thanks.” “All of the things that are eating away our culture and society on the inside was perfectly presented.” Pepitone offered as the most backhanded of compliments offered to MTV ever. “I’m serious, when our civilization collapses, this should be put in a time capsule for people to look at in the year 3000 to look at and go ‘Oh, well there you go.’” There might be hope for this quickly crumbling world if a TV show existed in which Eddie Pepitone watched and commented on shows featuring contemporary teenagers. The eternal optimist in me can still hope, but I won’t be holding my breath for it to appear on any Viacom owned network anytime soon.
SAMANTHA: Bullseye with Jesse Thorn - Michael Ian Black, Tom Bissell, Pete Holmes
This very literary episode of Bullseye welcomes Michael Ian Black (author of You’re Not Doing It Right) and Tom Bissell (of the recently released Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation), and while each author’s approaching a different topic – making a marriage work, making a living as a writer – the theme that ties the episode together is “trying.” Black, well known for his work with The State, Stella, and Sierra Mist (among other things), takes a more serious tack in his memoir, which explores his thoughts on family and inspiration. An admitted depressive and instinctive pessimist, Black talks about reconciling his fatalistic fears with the reality of his love for his family, and it’s not just sweet – it’s completely satisfying to hear the truth about what it’s like to make a life for yourself when you’re convinced good things can’t last. “Trying is hard,” he half-jokes, “I hate trying.” Similarly, Bissell brings up writers whose commercial success came after their deaths, like Herman Melville, who was rejected in his lifetime but kept compulsively creating work. For anyone who’s ever questioned their own efforts or wondered whether it’ll all ever pay off, hearing Black and Bissell honestly elaborate on self-doubt and self-awareness is pretty therapeutic. Plus! The episode also features a clip from Pete Holmes’ Impregnated With Wonder, a glimpse at Harvey Pekar’s posthumous graphic novel Cleveland, and host Thorn’s reasons why The Thick of It’s Malcolm Tucker is the baddest ass.
Dana Gould Hour #9 - Mini-KISS and Other Delights
Fitzdog Radio - Artie Lange and Todd Barry
Jordan, Jesse, Go! #234 – Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon
The Bryan Callen Show #10 - Mike Callen
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.
Lindsey Allen lives in Austin, TX. She has perfect teeth and a nice smell. A class act, all the way.
Roger Cormier insists that you wear denim and white when reading his work.