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.
Mike & Tom Eat Snacks #76 - Diced Peaches
JOSH: Few podcasts force us mere mortals to question our own conversational competence more than Mike & Tom Eat Snacks. Within the first three minutes of this week’s episode, our favorite hunger-fighting duo briefly jibber and lightly jabber about a variety of topics ranging from Meet Joe Black, to Muhammad Ali, to a light dissection on the art of poetry. After a brief debate regarding the pros and cons of peach syrup, the two “Kings of Chit-Chat” carefully deconstruct the operational logistics of managing a successfully efficient female circumcision business; you know, standard snack chat piddle paddle. The joy of listening to MATES is that there’s no argument too absurd, nor snack too nauseating that will prevent Mike and Tom from attacking each topic with the wit and majesty of a Harvard-educated Bald Eagle.
WTF with Marc Maron #358 – Mel Brooks
JAY: Comedy legend and EGOT Award-winner Mel Brooks graces us with his presence on WTF this week. What can one say about a man who has given us so much joy over the last 50+ years? It’s an honor just to hear Mr. Brooks speak and even in his mid-80s, Mel is still sharp. Maron goes “full-Jew” in this interview, which is to his advantage in this situation. It’s almost as if Marc is interviewing his long-lost grandfather. There is a perspective that is uniquely New York, second-generation (children of immigrants) Jewish American that so many of this country’s comedy pioneers had, that it is easy to recognize. Brooks attributes it to fear (of Nazis), but I believe it to be more of an outsider’s perspective. It is the reason why people from all different minority backgrounds became comedians. They are the ones who could interpret the dominant culture because,traditionally, they were not part of it. Brooks talks about his upbringing, his start in comedy, and his service in World War II. Then, it’s on to the “show business” era, when Brooks would hang out with guys like Buddy Rich, cast Gene Wilder in movies, and collaborate with Richard Pryor. This episode of WTF is an amazing oral history of Hollywood and Broadway comedy from they only man who has mastered both (at least until the South Park guys did it). Mel Brooks is truly a comedy icon and this is a podcast for the ages.
How Was Your Week #100 - Tom Scharpling, Jesse Thorn
LINDSEY: How Was Your Week hit the 100 episode mark this week, and it made me realize I will never get sick of this show (or the theme song). Klausner is funny on her own, but anytime she’s with Scharpling (like here!) she shines. We probably should all go back and listen to her appearances on The Best Show for the rest of our lives. Their banter back and forth is so genuine and perfect that I swear he could be the guest every episode and it would still be one of my favorites. And the two finally break the silence on the creepy Geico pig commercials. The discussion is worth it for that alone. In the second half of the show Klausner chats with Bullseye’s Jesse Thorn, and it’s great to hear her expand on the reason she made the podcast and to know just how much time and effort she puts in the show to make it the best and stand out in the crowd. So many podcasts can just feel like people chatting and thinking that everything they say is worth sending out into the universe, but Klausner puts a lot of thought into exactly what the show should be, and it really makes a difference. There’s a reason she was written up in The New York Times recently, and there’s a reason she always has such fascinating guests. Plus, she’s smart and funny and a pleasure to hear each week. Here’s to another hundred episodes!
Comedy Bang Bang #199 - Gillian Jacobs, Paul F. Tompkins
ROGER: It is both kind of ridiculous and really fun that a lot of backstory had to be rehashed at the beginning of this special episode of CBB in order for a casual listener to not be completely lost. Back in October, Gillian Jacobs - promoting the season four premiere of Community for the first of two times - convinced Paul F. Tompkins’s interpretation of famous producer, surprising Louie guest star, and ham Garry Marshall to murder his wife and shower Jacobs with many monies and wedded bliss. For over an hour, an agitated, gold-digging Jacobs and Marshall humorously argued like a true married couple not right for one another over several trivial matters, like faking a first wife’s death and The Illuminati, with Scott Aukerman knowing just when to interject and ask for an elaboration on something or to let the two keep the momentum going. Everyone knows PFT is talented, so it should be noted how Gillian Jacobs has shown in her podcast appearances to have a sharp wit and be funny in improvised scenes. Whenever she was annoyed and curt in her responses it was particularly funny (especially her declarative “hello” in the beginning, agitatedly spoken as soon as Aukerman spoke the final syllable of the last word of a particularly long and slightly inaccurate introduction). It was fitting that on the eve of Bang Bang’s 200th episode, “Garry Unmarried” was an excellent example of how bits derived from serialized improvised storytelling can be really rewarding and funny.
Man School #1 - Bryan Bishop
MARC: Caleb Bacon is not just a podcaster, he’s a quitter. A self-avowed, shameless quitter. (He even brags about it in a blog item up this week on The Huffington Post). After 154 episodes, he shut down The Gentlemens Club podcast at the end of last year. But he’s also a starter, as evidenced by the debut this week of Man School: “Life, from the men who have lived it.” Each episode, he has a guest on – primarily male guests, one would guess – to relate a particular set of experiences that left them with a new and usable set of life skills. He comes out swinging in the very first outing, his guest being Bryan Bishop, AKA “Bald Bryan” from Adam Carolla’s show as well as the co-host of The Film Vault podcast. The heavy part is that, four years ago at the age of 30, Bishop was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. With all of the various treatments and hospital stays and rehabilitation, one could come away from it feeling pretty grim. “My wife had all these friends over for my birthday party just before I was going into the hospital, and I realized they were pretty much there to say goodbye,” recalls Bishop. But a positive attitude (and some pretty potent drug cocktails) helped to knock the tumor down and his tale is rather inspiring. Man School is not a comedy podcast per se, but the host is a comedy writer and many of his guests will be from the comedy world, so even the direst of messages comes equipped with a sardonic grin.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network:
This week Tom receives more mail from the local cemetery and has a run-in with a conspiracy theorist on the subway, leading to a frank discussion about the Illuminati and immortality. Also Tim explains how he doesn’t like people who love science, but wouldn’t mind donating his body to it as long as he can make sure it isn’t used to scare children after he’s dead.
Alex Waxman and Ben Johnson from the Brooklyn band Pre War check out a rockin’ Episode of Tales from the Crypt featuring Iggy Pop and Sam Kinison. Things get spooky, but in a rock ’n’ roll sort of way (so not really that spooky).
Our story this week: Eliot Glazer and Jackie Mancini’s mutual friend mysteriously disappeared, only to resurface later, wedding invitation in hand. While Eliot and Jackie delight in a surreal and strange ritual including something called The Incestual Harassment Society Incorporated African Dance Troupe they uncover a creeping strangeness at the heart of their friend’s estrangement.
In this week’s episode of “Make Yourself Comfy with Abra Tabak” Lauren Lapkus (NBC’s Are You There, Chelsea?), Laura Willcox (Bucky), and Shaun Diston (The Shauncast) join Abra to create a world where sex isn’t fun, Gollum rules high school, and your mom loves boobalas.
Lindsey Allen lives in Austin, TX. She has perfect teeth and a nice smell. A class act, all the way.
Roger Cormier wrote a book narrated by Gil Bellows.
Josh Sorokach is a comedy writer living in NYC who was once referred to as a “Poor Man’s Joshua Jackson” while on a date.