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.
By The Way, In Conversation with Jeff Garlin #11 - Tig Notaro
ROBERT: If you’re a fan of Jeff Garlin’s hearty belly laughter, this is the best episode of By The Way, In Conversation with Jeff Garlin to listen to so far. Tig Notaro – probably most famous for her fearless and hilarious set about her breast cancer diagnosis – sits down with Garlin to talk about that experience, but so much more. And Notaro is just as funny in conversation with Garlin as anywhere else. Her sarcastic and sardonic wit really shines in this episode, with Garlin as the consummate willing foil. The episode feels like it could have been a little shorter (it clocks in at about an hour and a half) and there are a lot of awkward pauses. But then again, Notaro thrives on those as well: “We’ve really hit a sweet spot in the conversation,” she pokes at Garlin after one of the many near-silent interludes. Besides Notaro and Garlin’s odd/great chemistry, you’ll get to hear some background to Notaro’s “cancer set” and how her illness, along with a famous event in 2005 that you probably never knew affected her personally, helped her learn how to surrender to life and not sweat the small stuff. Oh, and also you’ll hear Garlin laughing so hard at one of Notaro’s wisecracks that he actually goes silent for almost half a minute, finally coming back to the mic with “Oh, oh, ohhh… I almost lost consciousness!”
improv4humans #84 - Todd Glass, Anthony King, Alex Fernie, Ben Rodgers
BRADFORD: It’s always fun on Matt Besser’s podcast improv4humans when a non-improviser joins in on the fun. Like with Scott Aukerman’s appearance on the show last year, stand-up Todd Glass is surrounded by improv veterans (Anthony King, Alex Fernie, and Ben Rodgers) and he keeps up just fine. Episode highlights include a scene at a carnival inspired by the world’s goofiest news story and another about a civil war reenactment gone wrong. Plus, you get an ending scene inspired by strange Twitter guidelines Besser received from a TV show he’s on that results in Rodgers, King, and Besser playing Dane Cook, Carrot Top, and Marc Maron, respectively.
The K Ohle with Kurt Braunohler #6 - Get Lost with Kristen Schaal
ROGER: There’s a theory that if you looked inside the mind of Kurt Braunohler, you would find a circle of monkeys cleaning each other to the sound of slowed down carousel music. It would explain how Braunohler came up with the current three different formats for his new podcast, including “Get Lost,” which this week found his long-time comedy partner Kristen Schaal being blindfolded and driven to an abandoned zoo. Braunohler explained in the intro that it would work better to reveal where he ends up taking Schaal because it would showcase her unique way of thinking, and sure enough, all of her guesses on what a bunch of empty caves in a forgotten part of Los Angeles were used for were awfully strange and funny, partly because the answer was already known to the listeners. The podcast alone would have been great if it was simply their discussion on the car ride, where they discussed their failed UK pilot Penelope Princess of Pets, as well as their shared and individual successes in their careers, but Kurt and Kristen – who Kurt claimed naturally thinks like she is always on hallucinogens – fittingly did it in their own beautifully demented way.
The Duncan Trussell Family Hour #69: Monsanto Presents: Pete Holmes
JAY: Say what you will, but I’m always a sucker for a crossover episode. This week’s Duncan Trussell Family Hour is a classic example, featuring podcast host extraordinaire: Pete Holmes. This is a perfect pairing, as Holmes is willing to indulge any line of conversation and Trussell regularly explores the boundaries of reality. Naturally, the conversation begins with (potential) conspiracies and cults; namely chiropractors, Scientology and Charles Manson, and their parallels to American society. What follows is a borderline religious discussion of perception, life, and dreams. In a time when so many are questioning the paradigms we’ve been fed, Duncan Trussell and Pete Holmes are perfect spirit guides. This is one of those podcasts that makes even the least spiritual among us think in a different way and not just for that reason, it is one of this week’s best.
Pop My Culture #116 - Dana Gould
MARC: Hosts Vanessa Ragland and Cole Stratton have been popping our culture for a few years now, bringing celebrity guests into their PMC lair, working them over with subtly weird interview questions interspersed with lively discussion about current events and pop culture-y things. In their latest installment, guest Dana Gould (The Dana Gould Hour) not only has no problem pacing the hosts’ banter but manages to uncork a little of his trademark hilarious darkness along the way. “To me and my brother, who were raised in chaos and trauma…watching Breaking Bad is like watching The Brady Bunch.” Gould also acquits himself well in the last portion of the show, which is like a game show. Stratton pelts the guest with trivia challenges – in this case, having to recall which character said what on The Simpsons (where Gould was a writer/producer for seven years) and Ragland digs down with philosophical conundrums like “A wizard gives you a choice between never doing stand-up again or only doing stand-up from megachurches.” Gould doesn’t hesitate to pick the latter. “Constant fighting, surly stares, and hostile, unexpressed emotion. Perfect!”
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network:
This week, due to popular demand, we talk about the things that people should do when they visit New York City. Ya know, The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. Birthplace of the Churro. We discuss some of the more touristy destinations like Times Square (particularly the M&Ms Store), the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. This, for some reason, leads to a lot of talk about Roy from Siegfried and Roy.
Andy Blitz (Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Eagleheart) comes over to watch the season two finale of Homeland even though he’s never watched an episode of the show. Andy talks about why Presidents and Vice Presidents are so boring on TV, uncovers the ending of Mad Men where it turns out that Don Draper is Homer Simpson and Craig and Andy go through the top ten spoilers in movie history.
Caitlin Brodnick thought diets were fun. Really. But then she made herself a lab rat in the cult-like laboratory of the Great American Infomercial. Cast as a “Before” in a meal-plan experiment for television, what wouldn’t she sacrifice for the horrible “After?”
Roger Cormier is a WPA funded project.
Bradford Evans is Splitsider’s Associate Editor.
Rob Schoon lives in Brooklyn and writes about tech, media, comedy and culture.