The comedy podcast universe is ever expanding, not unlike the universe universe. We’re here to make it a bit smaller, a bit more manageable. There are a lot of great shows and each has a lot of great episodes, so we want to highlight the exceptional, the noteworthy. Each week our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists and especially enthusiastic people will pick their favorites. Also, we’ll keep you posted on the offerings from our very own podcast network. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy.
BRADFORD: Comedy Bang Bang #182 - Tim Heidecker, Joe Wengert, Lauren Lapkus
Tim & Eric’s Tim Heidecker dragged Scott Aukerman into the recording studio mid-week so he could promote his new drama The Comedy, leading to this bonus episode of Comedy Bang Bang. Heidecker has some solid bits up-top, about he and his high school friends’ epic list of the best movies of all-time (which his new movie is at the top of) and his quadrilogy of biopics about Bad Company frontman Paul Rodgers. Joining Heidecker are two hilarious new characters, Arthur Steinborn and Diane, played by L.A.-based UCB improvisers Joe Wengert and Lauren Lapkus. It’s an enjoyable episode from start to finish with Aukerman, Heidecker, Wengert, and Lapkus falling into a fun and natural rapport and creating a particularly funny episode of Comedy Bang Bang. Monday’s Comedy Bang Bang with Happy Endings stars Casey Wilson and Adam Pally is also a delight, so check that one out too.
ELISE: Robin and Josie’s Utter Shambles #20 - Stewart Lee
It’s hard stepping into a new podcast, particularly one from a foreign country, but Robin and Josie’s Utter Shambles is a delightfully welcoming chat show that is as casual as its title suggests. Co-hosted by science-nerd/legend Robin Ince and alt comedy fave/girl crush Josie Long, this week’s episode features the great Stewart Lee to discuss alternative comedy in the UK. The British alt scene has its similarities to the American one (looser, more liberal, less pandering) but its own unique influences and timeline, and their discussion about its backstory and current relationship to mainstream comedy is fascinating for anyone into comedy history. As someone who listens to a lot of comedy podcasts, its not often I learn something new about comedy from a podcast, so this one really stands out. Also, it’s got Stewart Lee, so get on board.
JAY: WTF with Marc Maron #327 - Jimmie Walker
Jimmie Walker means much more to comedy than just a catch phrase from a 1970’s sitcom. This week, he stops by Marc Maron’s WTF podcast to talk about everything from the Chitlin’ Circuit to the Los Angeles standup scene to the Late Night wars. No matter what he does, Walker will always be best-known for his “JJ Evans” character from Good Times. He was so famous in the late 70’s, even my parents knew him and consequently did not let anyone call me “JJ.” But why? This is the theme running through this episode of WTF. Walker is funny, but not nearly as respected as he should be. It seems to be a classic case of a guy who played a character so well, people think he is that character. But he was a working standup comedian, actor, and manager who sewed the seeds for a generation of Late Night television. Both Letterman and Leno once worked for Jimmie. As their manager/mentor, Walker has a unique perspective on the tumultuous relationship between the two and he talks about it with Marc. Ultimately, I think it comes down to this: Letterman wanted to serve comedy and Leno wanted to win. But you can decide for yourself by listening Jimmie Walker’s fascinating story. Its a lesson in the history of modern television comedy. And incidentally, I always thought the lyric was: “hangin’ and a-jone’in.” Good times.
JOEL: The CrabFeast #24 – Jen Kirkman
The latest CrabFeast is a legit example of great storytelling – honest, funny and loose. And, this isn’t your now-standard Moth or Risk one-person talking format. The beauty of The CrabFeast is it’s casual hanging out approach to storytelling and riffing. Three of the best comedic storytellers around, hosts Ryan Sickler and Jay Larson along with their guest, comedian Jen Kirkman, really let loose in the latest episode. The CrabFeast has been on a great female-driven roll, of late, thanks to their celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a string of quality female guests. Bonus points for their connecting it all to Stand Up To Cancer donations. Larson and Sickler apply their regular dose of charm and wit, while Kirkman shines thanks to her seemingly never-ending string of childhood misadventure stories. She always seems to have pulling from a great combo of angst and charm. Sickler and Larson are really onto something with the CrabFeast’s format of laidback storytelling, always getting the best out of their guests.
That Chris Gore is fast becoming a Podcast Authority. This is in addition to him having spent the last quarter century as a Film Authority while publisher of the popular Film Threat ‘zine. At the recent inaugural Los Angeles Podcast Festival he moderated a panel on promoting and marketing podcasts as well as sitting in on another about the technology of podcasting. And his own podcast is about as meta as it gets: Gore appears on whatever podcasts he can get himself booked on and then plays clips from those appearances as installments of PodCRASH. What happens frequently – and certainly in the case of The Pre-Commentary Track podcast – Gore turns out to be the most entertaining part of the hosting show. The hosts, Richard and Mike, barely hold their own but it’s hardly their faults: Gore knows how to work a mic and the faint-of-heart have a hard time keeping up with his mile-a-minute pacing. He gets so far ahead of the other guys that before too long he’s interviewing them and the show is more or less under his control at that point. To add to the mischief, Gore intercuts wraparounds from the Podcast Festival, where he talks to the likes of festival organizer Graham Elwood and Fitzdog Radio’s host Greg Fitzsimmons, both of whom happen to amble by when he has the mic open. How many podcasts is Gore destined to apear on? No one can say but one thing’s for certain, when he does, it’s podcast gold.
Probably one of the biggest disappointments in life presented itself to this cold, sick world when the long awaited proper DVD release of Get a Life did not feature a single word of commentary from its star Chris Elliott or one of its executive producers and Chris’ longtime writing partner Adam Resnick Fortunately, Elliott and Resnick talked at length about a few of the show’s classic episodes on this week’s Best Show, to the point where Elliott admitted that it was their version of a commentary. (Elliott also revealed on the show that a disagreement with Life showrunner David Mirkin was the reason for his absence.) Host Tom Scharpling, who initially bonded with longtime comedy partner Jon Wurster over their mutual affection for the long cancelled Elliott/Resnick/Mirkin Fox program, spent almost the entire three hour show interviewing the two men he clearly respects. At least one hour was devoted to all of the difficulties surrounding the production and release of the Resnick directed Cabin Boy, which was an experience that still bothers it’s director enough that he repeatedly questioned why it became a punch line for so long. I’ve heard about a dozen Elliott interviews in my life, but I had never before heard him talk about his strangely believable theories that Roy Cohn and James Cameron sabotaged his career, or getting the authentic Tony Clifton experience all by himself on an elevator, or turning down playing either Jim Carrey or Jeff Daniels’ roles in Dumb and Dumber. Obviously, this is a must-listen for all fans of the comedian’s work.
This Week in the Splitsider Podcast Network:
This week, Sara gives a visceral account of her triumphant if unglamorous half-marathon and Nikki connects over the awkward joy of a good leg-pain massage. The ladies then welcome their guest comedian Sam Morril (@sammorril, Comedy Central’s “Comics to Watch”) who, like Nikki, is a regular on the Comedy Cellar’s storied stage which, for those of you west of the Hudson, means he’s makin’ it. The trio spend the episode exchanging war stories of poor audience manners, from innocent post-show snubs to inexcusably proud hecklers, and save just enough time at the end to first damn then forgive Billy Crystal, that jerk and/or saint.
This week we’re talking extreme stunts. From Felix Baumgartner’s extreme jumping out of a space capsule to David Blane’s getting electrocuted by 1 million volts for 72 hours, October has been a month more extreme than most could even imagine. But are these extremes acts of heroics, or do they just require someone being stupid enough to try?
Jon Gabrus lived the quintessential Hollywood college experience, if Hollywood was the name of an alternate world where everyone thought it was super cool to walk around with a bee on a string, shit your Gap boxer-briefs in front of a freshman co-ed, and drive with your eyes closed, high on stolen, canned oxygen. Make sure you’ve still got all your teeth and buckle up. Jon Gabrus is taking you to school.
Every month, The Sequel Machine recruits 25 writers to write the sequels for film’s biggest franchises one page at a time. The catch is, the writers only get to read the page before theirs in a round-robin, exquisite corpse style. The end result is a hilarious, twisted, and as coherent as any misquided Hollywood sequel. This month: 9thmare on Elm Street.
This week on The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show my guest is Dr. Robin Rosenberg, a practicing psychologist who also diagnoses superheroes. In this episode we discuss the psychological underpinnings of such characters as including Magneto, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Joker, and of course, Batman.
Bradford Evans is Splitsider’s Associate Editor.
Elise Czajkowski is a freelance journalist in New York City.
Roger Cormier didn’t do “Still Standing”, did he?