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.
Topics with Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter #1 - Does God Exist?
ROGER: For starters, it’s just nice to hear the two Michaels from The State (sorry Patrick Jann) not pretend fighting with one another, as was the case during the sorely missed Michael and Michael Have Issues. This time around, Black and Showalter are making a podcast that finds the two discussing deeply profound subjects in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, acting like people that on the surface seem either incredibly condescending to their audience (“I think he’s [Leonardo DaVinci] one of the greatest artists who ever lived, I really do.”) and/or just pretty stupid. The tone and DNA of Topics has a lot in common with Black’s other podcast M.A.T.E.S. with Tom Cavanagh, the two huge differences being that on Topics a general theme is ignored after it’s touched upon in the beginning as opposed to being ignored until the end, and the long-time familiarity with the co-hosts - the latter provided a lot of fun when Showalter seemed to genuinely crack up at something Black said, or when he legitimately challenged him to add to his thought. It’s also a funny, nostalgic good time when they throw down some serious foreign, and inaccurate accents (the gag of mangled syllables and accents has always been a favorite of the two used sparingly to preserve its appeal) and when the duo have a long laugh in character following an outdated statement about what Europeans think of Americans. Thirty minutes of mostly dry humor isn’t for everyone, but neither was Stella, and the people that didn’t like Stella aren’t to be trusted.
Dazed & Convicted #100 - Corn Chip Crusader vs. The Dragonslayer (with Pat Dixon)
MARC: I often think of Canadians as nice, polite folks – which means that podcast hosts Monica Hamburg and Bill Allman had to bust that stereotype a bit to win the title of “Most Vulgar Canadian Podcast”. The show in question, Dazed & Convicted, started out as The S&M Rants but Hamburg switched gears, off-loaded early co-host Shane Birley, and started a new thing that has, just this week, hit episode 100. The hosts focus on two true crime stories – current stuff – reading the accounts and then acting out sketches with the perps usually as the main characters. This week involved a man who may have been killed for a bag of corn chips, and another tale about a fellow who just had to stab his girlfriend many times because she “fought like a dragon.” Each show wraps up with a visit to a comedian – this case, New York’s Pat Dixon, who’s also the host of the NYC Crime Report podcast - when THEY help to determine which of the two crimes was the more memorable, thus dubbing the perp “fucktard of the week.” For this century episode, Hamburg and company went with the criminal they dubbed “The Dragonslayer.”
The Mike O’Meara Show #837 - Hand Painted
JAY: Mike O’Meara built a decades-long terrestrial radio career based on the quality and variety of his celebrity impressions. His range varies from Liberace to Teddy KGB to President Obama and everyone in between. It is an amazing coincidence then, that just one day before the tragic news, O’Meara opened his show with his James Gandolfini/Tony Soprano impression. A fitting tribute, the impression highlights the difference between Gandolfini’s “Tony” voice and his real voice, imagining that they are actually two different people; the highest compliment one can pay an actor. As if that is not enough, this episode of TMOS features the conclusion of O’Meara’s disastrous motorcycle trip to Laconia, Robb Spewak’s heartfelt farewell to his son’s best friend (who moved to Tunisia,) “futurotic” love toys, and so much more. Even without the strange Gandolfini coincidence, this podcast is funny, sentimental, honest, and just one more reason why we won’t (in the immortal words of Journey) stop believin’. RIP James Gandolfini.
How Was Your Week #119 - Harris Wittels and Ben Nugent
JOSH: Nobody introduces a podcast in a more unpredictably entertaining manner than Julie Klausner. This week the “Queen of Stream” suggests Labradoodles are the “Owen Wilson of dogs,” openly wishes for playwright Neil LaBute to get “hit in the face with a Carvel cookie cake,” and ponders the validity of a study that suggests that sitting can kill you – which, of course, leads to the more salient point – “Panera Bread has really good cookies.” Parks and Recreation writer/performer Harris Wittels drops by for a versatile conversation that covers all the classics: masturbation sleepovers, the “rascally” comedy of Joe Mande, and, of course, the amount of women Russell Crowe has killed. Wittels also discusses the details of a television pilot he wrote which would have starred Brian Baumgartner (Kevin from The Office) as a Delta employee working in an Atlanta airport. Later in the episode, author Ben Nugent joins Klausner to discuss nerd culture, snorting VCR head cleaner, and his new novel, Good Kids. Any podcast that can seamlessly transition from Owen Wilson to Russell Crowe to Steve Urkel is definitely elevated to must-listen status for the week.
The Bugle #238 - Imprismed
ROB: For anyone who still may not know, Jon Stewart is taking a bit of a sabbatical this summer to direct a movie, and he’s picked John Oliver to replace him as host of The Daily Show. Why John Oliver and not Jason Jones, who’s been on the show longer, or his wife Samantha Bee, who is now the longest-serving correspondent ever on the show? I suspect it’s because Oliver’s already run his own weekly current-affairs satire show, The Bugle, for half a decade. The Bugle,the podcast co-hosted by Oliver and long-time friend, comedian and pun-master Andy Zaltzman, is like the podcast of The Daily Show, only much more British. Amazingly, after Oliver’s first week taking over for Stewart – what he describes as “one very fucking weird week” – he managed to join Zaltzman for an episode. This week, you’ll hearThe Bugle’s take on the NSA story, including how the name Edward Snowden reminds Oliver of an old-timer British explorer’s name, while puntificate Zaltzman elaborates on the NSA Director’s response – “not wittingly” – to Congress’s questions about whether the NSA collects data on millions of Americans. This episode’s format is a little looser, probably because Oliver is clearly tired after his big week (Zaltzman, for what it’s worth, also just started hosting a smaller TV show of his own across the Atlantic this week). Zaltzman takes over much of the show, which is great for fans of his particular brand of hilarious rambling nonsense, which Oliver found the perfect way to describe: If Ken Burns produced a documentary of Andy Zaltzman’s vision of history, it would include “an elegant pan-shot across a mountain of bullshit.”
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network:
Our story this week: Sideburns, zoot suits, and Fred Savage, these are the three omens that signaled Michelle Markowitz’s late blooming into a wonderfully awkward young woman. Actually, you know what? Instead of describing this story, I will just tell you that it contains the line “He didn’t deserve my Austin Powers quote.” If you’re not sold now, you never will be.
Isabel Deslauriers wasn’t just the first woman to win the Candian Remote Control Airplane Championship, she was the only female competing. This week on The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show she explains how r/c airplanes and r/c airplane championships work.
Jordan Carlos (Guy Code) introduces Craig to the high flying world of New York City Real Estate with Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing: New York. In addition to enjoying this guilty pleasure, Jordan uses his experience as an Econ. major in college to estimate the price of Craig’s apartment and gives some killer investment advice.
This week, Tim and Tom discuss the new, darker turn Superman has taken in the new Man of Steel movie, memories of the Batman/Superman cartoon show, the finest portrayal of Superman in any medium (Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), Smallville, the time Superman died and everyone bought a thousand copies of the comic and some other stuff. Also, we argue a lot about Batman, because that’s kind of “our thing.”
Roger Cormier thinks the holiday season is too commercialized
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.
Rob Schoon lives in Brooklyn and writes about tech, media, comedy and culture.