This Week in Podcasts: Mel Brooks’s First Second Podcast, a Very Jen Kirkman Christmas, and More

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.

The Nerdist #288 - Mel Brooks

ROGER: Not too long after popping Tom Hanks’ podcast cherryThe Nerdist continued to impress and heighten the credibility of the podcast medium by chatting up Mel Brooks for over an hour and a half. It was Brooks’s first second appearance on a podcast, which was apparent when both the beginning and end of the episode found the guest asking Chris Hardwick how podcasts operate and are monetized (lot of people working on the answer to the latter.) Despite the naivety, Brooks is very sharp for an 86-year-old, so the anecdotes he shared were easy to get lost in and follow, even if a couple were heard a few times before in current or past talk show publicity tours. One of the more interesting stories that Hardwick, Jonah Ray and Matt Mira coaxed out of the comedy legend were about Blazing Saddles co-writer Richard Pryor. Pryor supposedly insisted on exclusively writing the Mongo lines, and was tasked in informing Brooks on which “black stuff” that Brooks had written were acceptable and which lines could not keep in the script because it was “only for brothers.” Of course, picking a favorite anecdote is as difficult as picking a favorite Mel Brooks movie, and I’m not just writing that because Hardwick surprised his guest by bringing up the rarely mentioned fact that the possible inventor of the cell phone once punched a journalist in the face.

CORRECTION: Nerdist is Mel Brooks’s second podcast appearance, not his first as we originally reported. His first was on A Bit of Chat with Ken Plume earlier this month.

Comedy Bang! Bang! #188 - Judd Apatow, Jessica St. Clair, Graham Parker

BRADFORD: Given how much of a comedy nerd he is, it’s pretty surprising that Judd Apatow doesn’t appear on podcasts more frequently. Of course, he’s constantly busy writing/directing/producing/developing movies and shows, so he probably doesn’t have the time, but This Is 40 is also the first movie he’s made since the podcast boom, so we may be hearing him pop up a lot more on the comedy podcast dial over these next few weeks. Apatow gets paired with one of Comedy Bang Bang’s most popular characters ever, Jessica St. Clair’s Marissa Wompler, the show’s lazy teenage intern. Apatow falls into the rhythms of the show nicely for a first-time guest, and Wompler is as enjoyable as usual. Highlights of the episode include a sstory from Apatow about being scammed by a pyramid scheme run by LeVar Burton in the ‘80s, a tale from Scott Aukerman about a memorable fight that broke out during a screening of JFK, and everything out of Marissa Wompler’s mouth.

The Todd Glass Show #75 - Jen Kirkman and Jake Fogelnest

LINDSEY: I haven’t been listening to many podcasts lately. (TV has been so good, you guys.) I decided that Thanksgiving weekend would be a good week to catch up. They’re all so wonderful! I had a hard time choosing what to write about this week, but ultimately decided to pick The Todd Glass Show. Kirkman is always a great guest, and she and Fogelnest fit right in considering that they are fans of the podcast themselves. Songs are sung, dances are danced, and we learn Kirkman’s Christmas wish. (It’s a good one.) Sometimes the runtime seems daunting and you may be tempted to skip TTGS every once in a while. Don’t! There is nothing better than spending a couple of hours with some friends that live in your iPhone. This show is the best.

The Champs - Shawn and Marlon Wayans

JAY: After In Living Color went off the air, there was a gaping hole in the hip hop comedy world until the torch was finally picked up by Chappelle’s Show. For this reason, there is no better place for the Wayans brothers to tell their story than The Champs podcast with Neal Brennan and Moshe Kasher. Last week, Shawn and Marlon Wayans dropped by Champs Studios to talk about their show business careers. The podcast begins with stories about why Shawn drives a minivan, top-of-his-fame Eddie Murphy visiting their house in the New York projects, and how their brother Keenan influenced them. We get to hear about their days on In Living Color, what it was like to be a Wayans at Howard University during that time, and why they think Bill Cosby hates them. Marlon talks about his experience on Above the Rim and gives perhaps the best description of Tupac, by saying “no gangster has eyelashes like that,” and calls him “high-polar” (rather than bipolar). The brothers finish up by describing the process of making Don’t be a MenaceWhite ChicksThe Wayans Brothers show and the Scary Movie films. This podcast flies by and they don’t even get into half of the stories they could discuss. Hopefully, they will be back soon, but for now, let’s take it out with the DJ who makes the butts bounce: SW1 (cue The Fly Girls).

Wits #8 - Maria Bamford and Hannibal Buress

ELISE: I’ll say this right now: if you don’t love Maria Bamford, you and I will never be friends. She joins John Moe for a great interview about her mother, Minnesota, and mental health issues, and drops in intriguing bits of gossip like, “I did get to kiss John Travolta a few times for, uh, a reason.” Maria is as lovely, funny and sweet as you would expect, and I never ever get tired of listening to her. The second half of this all-comedy episode is a slightly more traditional but still interesting interview with the always charming Hannibal Buress. Coming in at a tight 30 minutes, the interviews on Wits are brief but warm and relaxed, and manage to do what very few podcasts do - leave you wanting more.

Ratchet & The Geek #3

MARC: Normally I like to wait until a podcast has gotten its sea legs a bit, but I grabbed an earful of Ratchet & The Geek #3 this week and the co-hosts — Luvvie Ajayi and Scott Hanselman — not only have a steady rapport, but they already sport over 10,000 downloads.  She runs a popular comedy blog (Awesomely Luvvie), while he also has a blog (Computer Zen) and two other podcasts, both dealing with tech. What I particularly like about their chemistry is that they’re both into geeky stuff, while Ajayi clearly has her finger on the pulse of hipster America (her humor blog has been a winner or finisher constantly for awards since 2009.) The geek meter can be fairly high — in this episode, Hanselman gushes on about the Twine device he just received that he (and 3,965 others) helped to Kickstarter into being — but the pop culture references rage as well, with Ajayi giving a rundown on the chaotic plane-full-of-crazies that resulted from Rihanna’s 777 tour. While these two have yet to hit their full stride, it seems like Ratchet & The Geek are well on their way.

This Week in the Splitsider Podcast Network:

You Had To Be There #87: Molly Tarlov

This week, Sara and Nikki explain how a single sexy scene from American Horror Story can undo a decade of Adam Levine apathy. Once they’ve collected themselves, the ladies welcome their guest actress Molly Tarlov to the podcast meeting room. Molly, who plays Sadie on Awkward, tells her showbiz origin story and leads the discussion from the lows of Twitter trolls to the highs of a JoJo singalong. The trio winds down by talking some pee about Etsy, former guest Carmen Lynch, and a tale about a trip to the thee-ay-ter that manages to include a Homeland spoiler (you’ve been warned). Give thanks for this fun, “flirty” episode.

The Complete Guide To Everything: Moving (Part 2)

In this thrilling conclusion to last week’s episode, we talk more about the experience of moving. Instead of complaining about movers, we complain about the insane world of New York City brokers and give some tips on how to deal with them. Also, Tom has a less than ideal trip to a sushi restaurant with his family and Tim comes up with a foolproof idea to prevent being murdered in your sleep. In a new installment of Tim and Tom Solve Your Problems, we get in the middle of a roommate-related love triangle.

The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show: Comedian and Scrabble Expert Matt Graham

This week on The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show, Jeff talks to Matt Graham. Matt Graham is a man with an interesting resume. On the comedy side he’s written for SNL and Conan (on which he also appeared several times as a standup). On the Scrabble side he’s placed second in the Scrabble World Championships, been featured in the Scrabble book Word Freak, and was a central character in the Scrabble documentary Word Wars. This week on The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show we discuss the strategy of high-level Scrabble, Matt’s vintage board game collection, and tips for Scrabble enthusaists who have yet to memorize all the 2-letter words.

It’s That Episode #42: Eric Drysdale Visits the 25th Century with ‘Buck Rogers’

Eric Drysdale (The Colbert Report, The Man with F.E.E.E.T.) introduces Craig to the 1970s sci-fi crap-fest Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Learn about Eric’s affinity for bad sci-fi that involves music, meet a wise-cracking robot that wears another robot around his neck and hunker down in a trash duct for this week’s episode FROM THE 25TH CENTURY.

Left Handed Radio #21: ‘The Book of Deuteromnibus’

On this episode: The Monster Truck going away party, the guest pastor has a differing set of pronunciation beliefs, The Holy Land Experiences caters to the menfolk, a gay bar comes out to its owner, NPR’s Drive-Time Morning Menagerie makes a prank call, WLFO’s Blizzard Tracker 2012, Tulip at meets the man of her dreams, everyone wants to put on the Christmas tree star.

A Funny Thing #36: Hayley Bing is Drinking Pee and Taking Names

Hayley Bing was dating a nice boy who happened to be friends with the biggest asshole in the world. One time he gave her a beer that was really his own urine. It got worse, and when it spread to muffins, Hayley hatched a plan for revenge. We won’t spoil the big reveal at the end of Hayley’s tale, but let’s just say she has the last laugh.

Make Yourself Comfy with Abra Tabak #7: “Toucha My Pinkie” with Fran Gillespie, Kevin Hines, & Ryan Karels

Oh, hello! In this week’s episode of Make Yourself Comfy with Abra Tabak, Fran Gillespie (The Law Firm), Kevin Hines (The Curfew), and Ryan Karels (Grandma’s Ashes) join Abra in creating a world where Keanu Reeves Makes-A-Wish to surf, sea urchins need adopting, and the key to health is a Viactiv and a hard roll.

Image via Earwolf

Elise Czajkowski is a freelance journalist in New York City.

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

Lindsey Allen lives in Austin, TX. She has perfect teeth and a nice smell. A class act, all the way.

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

Bradford Evans is Splitsider’s Associate Editor.

Roger Cormier will secure the perimeter once he gets some rest.

This Week in Podcasts: Mel Brooks’s First Second […]