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.
Ken Plume rang in a major podcasting milestone this past week, celebrating his wonderful talk show A Bit of Chat’s 200th episode. For the big show, Plume rang up TV sidekick Andy Richter and delved deep into Richter’s past and present with a two-hour-long chat that covered the comedian’s early days working for Conan, his college years, and the ins and outs of his daily routine now. Some of the most fascinating moments of their conversation are the host and guest discussing the production and inane network politics of Richter’s trio of short-lived sitcoms, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Quintuplets, and Andy Barker, P.I. Richter avoids discussing the Conan/Leno Tonight Show kerfuffle, which is a wise move since we’re all just as tired of hearing about it as he seems to be.
ELISE: Professor Blastoff #73 – “Memory”
After last week episode, which included that stellar news that Tig’s cancer is in remission, things are back to normal in the hatch. Kyle gamely shares another embarrassing story (this one is pot-based), and the gang explores memory, discussing early childhood memories, forgetting people’s names, and tricks for remembering. I wish I could avoid the obvious pun, but alas, it is not the most memorable of episodes. Kyle is on the phone from New York, and as is often the case when one member isn’t in studio, the show lacks the spark that characterizes a great episode. And without a guest to shake things up or offer an alternative perspective, the episode is somewhat aimless. That said, the always-likeable show is as amusing and enjoyable as ever.
JAY: Fresh Air – Tig Notaro and Louis C.K.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. No matter how much pink NFL equipment or Parenthood story lines remind us of the existence of this insidious disease, nothing can bring the horror of finding a lump into as sharp a focus as a true personal experience. It should be no surprise then, that a story of this magnitude is best told by a skilled stand-up comedian. At its best, a stand-up routine rises above mere jokes and lets the audience in on exactly what the comedian is thinking and feeling in that moment. Tig Notaro recently decided to talk about her breast cancer diagnosis on stage at Largo in Los Angeles and had one of these transcendent nights. Louis C.K. was backstage and immediately grasped the importance of Tig’s set. Luckily for us, it was recorded and can currently be purchased at Louis C.K.’s website. On this episode of Fresh Air, we get to hear an excerpt from the legendary performance before Terry Gross talks to both Tig Notaro and Louis C.K. about that evening at Largo, cancer, and comedy. Check out this podcast and you will see that in the face of something as scary as cancer, sometimes laughter truly is the best medicine.
JOEL: The Bugle #208 – “A Kama Sutra Approach To The Truth”
The homestretch of the political and media blunt instrument over the head also known as the U.S. presidential election is a perfect time to check in with the shining light of political satire, The Bugle. John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman work two basic angles over the course of their weekly digital hangouts. There’s the pre-written and hard hitting rants on both the mighty and the silly. Then there’s their joyful back-and-forth that often deteriorates into a fun obnoxious-off. Oliver starts off the episode, showing off his rant skills with a glorious recap of the recent LMFAO demise/resurrection cycle. A bulk of this week’s episode involves high-end shit talking on the recent presidential debate, including repeat references to the demand for a “no nut shots” rule. Oliver and Zaltzman don’t get too into the candidate specifics, instead going full force after the BS debate format and the surrounding political circus. There’s an A-plus tangent involving the social and economic relevance of sex dungeon construction. Other fun tidbits include a chat about snake medicine, including Oliver taking on the duties of narrating a lab mouse’s inner monologue. The silly comes full force when an erroneous cod counting news story gives Zaltzman the chance to annoy the crap out of Oliver fish puns galore. Combining the high-minded and silly in one great comedy pill, The Bugle continues to sooth the pain of today’s BS.
Team-hosted by comedian Melinda Hill (Comedy Central’s Pretend Time) and NYTimes Best Selling author Jillian Lauren (Some Girls: My Life In A Harem), Eat My Podcast starts off with a rollicking gabfest between the former and the latter before bringing in a guest with whom they banter it up. This particular installment has Jillian relating a story of the politest of catcalls she’d recently received by a be-tatted gangsta on the streets of LA – “Excuse me, ma’am, I’d like to respectfully say that you look ridiculously good today” – which then segues into a story about how rude guys were when she was a little younger. Melinda mentions how she’s often being recognized for being comedian Melinda Hill more and more on internet dating sites. Then their borrowed man-cave studio (loaned by Jillian’s husband, Scott Shriner, bass guitarist for Weezer) is invaded by force-of-nature Jackie Beat (drag alter ego of actor/singer/songwriter/
ROGER: You Made It Weird #91 – Thomas Middleditch
So what is it exactly about the dissolution of the friendship of two comedians that is so damn interesting? That is a serious question - I’m afraid I’m some kind of gossip loving monster sometimes. Either way, Thomas Middleditch is an actor/writer/comedian who was good friends with host Pete Holmes until four years ago when the two seemed to just fall out of touch with each other, too busy in their careers and personal lives to ever get the “bromance” back on track. The reason given for the breakup was predictably murky when you consider that Holmes cut slack to similar comedian code indiscretions to others, but I’m sure with multiple listens and a Psych 101 textbook all would be revealed. The value in the episode wasn’t in those juicy tidbits, but in Middleditch’s honest sharing of his previous struggles with depression and his recent breakup with his long term girlfriend. Before anyone can get too sad and officially claim it to be “the saddest podcast” as Holmes half-jokingly did, the old friends demonstrate their old comedic chemistry, singing silly songs in unison that possibly even they themselves didn’t quite understand, like old mustachioed vaudevillian entertainers performing for one last moment in the sun.
SAMANTHA: Doug Loves Movies #613 – Sarah Silverman, Tig Notaro, Nikki Glaser, Amy Schumer
This all-star episode of Doug Loves Movies is also unofficially The Tig Show (“Welcome to another episode of ‘Maybe Tig Will Say Something!’” Doug jokes); recorded days after the release of “Live,” there are a lot of references to her growing fan base, (clean bill of) health, Louis C.K.-hosted album sales, and the fact that she lives in a bunk bed with Kyle Dunnigan at Amy Schumer’s house (there’s also an hour-long bit where she repeatedly attempts to order egg nog, so keep your seat belt on for that). With so much chemistry, the 2-hour episode feels at times like a slumber party – there’s plenty of breaking into song, obsessing over sock buns, gossiping about Kulap’s boobs, and trying to see who can get Todd Barry on the phone fastest (there are a few awkward voicemails, but alas). The Games almost end in a four-way tie, thanks in part to mock competitiveness and Tig’s complete inability to recall movies in general, but ultimately a winner is chosen, capping off one of the most fun episodes of DLM yet.
This Week in the Splitsider Podcast Network:
This week, Nikki and Sara are back in Brooklyn and reflecting on their busy September travels. The ladies recently collaborated with their guest comedian Jeff Dye (Last Comic Standing) on a couple episodes of his insane MTV series Money From Strangers. Jeff conveys the mind-altering power of playing God on a prank show and Sara and Nikki offer previews of the most absurd situations they controlled during their stint in the MFS van. The podcast gets healthy as Sara, a newly-minted jock, compares her grueling running regimen with Jeff’s torturous LA workouts and Jeff warns the group about the perils of scammer yogis. Listen ‘til the end and you’ll discover the dark side of uplifting TV, experience the thrill of gift-giving/getting when Nikki surprises Sara with a wobbly collectable, and learn more about rats than you will from any other podcast this week, guaranteed.
This week on The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show, Jeff talks to competitive gamer and multiple fighting game champion Justin Wong. They talk about how he got started in the world of competitive gaming, the difference between a professional gamer and a button masher and the different fighting games that have come out.
October’s the time for outdoor autumnal activities. In Tom’s case that means traveling to Long Island to tour wineries, go pumpkin picking, visiting a corn maze and running into Arnold Schwarzenegger in Manhattan. In Tim’s case that means going to the Bronx to walk around a cemetery at night with a bunch of elderly people, which of course leads to a debate about the reality Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video is set in. This week Tom recounts his recent trip to Chicago and the Midwest for the first time ever where he discovers how big lakes can be (really big), the numerous ways entrepreneurs are ripping off the Chicago Cubs, and lazy facial hair. Also the guys solve a listener problem concerning what type of gift is appropriate for a new “fauxmance’s” birthday.
On “It’s That Episode” Craig Rowin (UCB Theatre) invites guests over to watch any episode of any TV show they want. They discuss the episode and other crap. Henry Zebrowski (Murderfist, Girls) stops by to watch an episode of the classic dinosaur puppet sitcom Dinosaurs. Henry and Craig learn why you shouldn’t abuse steroids to pick up jurassic chicks and try to figure out if dinosaurs have genitalia.
This week, Nicole Byer sidles up to the Genius Bar and walks away with a plate full of hot mess. A whole bottle of Georgi, a tight weave, and an unjustified night of living it up beyond the velvet rope results in the only thing it should, a warm puddle of ignominious haze. Apologies to developmentally disabled cockatiels everywhere.
Bradford Evans is Splitsider’s Associate Editor.
Elise Czajkowski is a freelance journalist in New York City.
Roger Cormier does not currently have unicorns under his skin.
Samantha Pitchel writes about and watches comedy in Austin and Los Angeles.