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.
Comedy Bang Bang - Maria Bamford, James Adomian
ROGER: James Adomian and his interpretation of God to all aspiring womanizers and assorted awful people everywhere, Tom Leykis, is so beloved that it was given the co-feature guest slot on this week’s Bang Bang (no pesky waiting until after the first commercial break to interrupt a WTF style interview for Tom.) One year after “Leykis” made his only other appearance on the podcast, Adomian’s responses to Scott Aukerman and Maria Bamford’s inquiries about his personal life and history hilariously expanded the character’s backstory, and the added wrinkle of Leykis’ newly discovered ability to float three feet off the air and to briefly share a body with food critic Merrill Shindler indicates that there will be more physics defying sci-fi aspects to Leykis moving forward, just like James’ other fully formed characters. It sounds like Maria Bamford was overshadowed and didn’t get enough air time, but that wasn’t the case. Bamford’s stories, particularly her earnest and funny ruminations on relationships, set up Adomian perfectly without feeling like that was its sole purpose.
improv4humans - Bonus Cuts: Intern Wars
PABLO: There’s a saying about interns: Can’t live with them, can’t live without them if you want to cut costs by subverting decades-old labor laws. While Improv4Humans gets many of its scene suggestions from tweets and YouTube videos, the show’s most memorable scenes were inspired by the man-on-the-street interviews conducted by Eric the Unpaid Intern. Eric has since moved on to greener pastures, but it was his Spicoli-esque personality and complete lack of interviewing ability that made him the perfect foil/sidekick to the witty, acerbic Matt Besser. This week, Eric makes his triumphant return under unique circumstances as Matt invites four hopeful interns, all young enough to have never heard of “rainbow parties”, to battle it out based on the strengths of their own man-on-the-street interviews. While the quartet give it a valiant effort, Matt is left pining by the end of the episode for his former intern and even offers him a chance to return to Earwolf. If we the podcast-listening community are fortunate enough to have Eric accept, we can look forward to quotes like “Am I actually on the air?” on a weekly basis.
James Bonding - Dr. No with Paul F. Tompkins
JOSH: James Bonding, Nerdist’s new podcast hosted by Matt Gourley and Matt Mira, is about Bond. James Bond, specifically. But can a collection of audio recordings truly be referred to as a podcast before first welcoming the dulcet tones of Paul F. Tompkins as a guest? I don’t think so. The three comedians discuss this hilariously dated 1962 spy film Dr. No in all its absurd glory. James Bonding isn’t just exclusively entertaining to fans of the spy series genre, there’s plenty to enjoy for those of us who aren’t as familiar with the Bond canon. This specific episode contains Harrison Ford anecdotes, a plethora of Sean Connery impersonations and an astounding story involving Fred Durst, an attractive female and backgammon. Attractive women and backgammon? Fred Durst still got it! At one point Tompkins asks the most salient Sean Connery question I’ve ever heard when he ponders if Connery enjoys talking like Sean Connery. “Do you think it’s fun for him? Do you think he just says stuff into the mirror?” If you’re a James Bond aficionado, James Bonding is a must listen, but even if you don’t know your James Bond from your James Caan, it’s still a lot of fun.
It’s hard to keep up with the ever-expanding world of comedy podcasts but, as the host of a podcast about comedy podcasts, it’s inexcusable that I have missed out on listening to Harmontown. Until now. Writer Dan Harmon, creator of TV’s Community, is the host and self-appointed mayor of this free-ranging, rambling audio city called Harmontown. Jeff Davis, improv comedian (Whose Line Is It Anyway) is his “comptroller” who tries valiantly to keep Harmon tracking through the roughly two hours of podcastery. This episode’s agenda unspools from the host’s “iHarmon” (a scribble pad he wears around his neck) and includes a discourse on Premium gas and who really needs it, a discussion on what everyone in Harmontown should dress up as for Halloween, and answering his girlfriend Erin McGathy’s (“This Is Terrible” podcast) burning questions about a billboard for soon-to-be-released video game Grand Theft Auto V (“Is the guy in the polo shirt with the money someone I should know?”) Oh, yeah, and he and the cast also play a spirited slice of Dungeons & Dragons along the way. The show is both intentionally funny as well as often inadvertently funny, and keeps changing up the rhythm along the way. By doing his podcast in front of a live audience – and including them as part of the show – Harmon has created a built-in citizenry of Harmontown, many of whom come back episode after episode. And now, after listening, I can hear why the “extended citizenry” out in Podcastland keeps returning to Harmontown.
Professor Blastoff - Live from Montreal/ The Internet (w/ Bo Burnham)
As the title suggests, this episode was recorded live in Montreal and also comes via the Internet. After discussing the intriguing possibility of someday having a ghost as a guest on the show, musical/poetical comedian Bo Burnham joins the Tig, Kyle, David, and Aaron to have a roundabout, quasi-serious talk about the internet. Their chat about the pros and cons of the web is made really interesting by Bo’s squeamishness about playing or listening to his early songs, which he uploaded to YouTube as a teenager and went on to launch him as a YouTube sensation. His complicated feelings about having his earliest, least polished material online also influences their discussion of internet bullying and the repercussions of having everything about childhood available online forever. They also discuss the best way to deal with internet commenters, and the endless possibilities of the internet. It’s not the smoothest episode the show’s ever done, but it’s about time the professor addressed the medium on which he exists.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network
This week starts off with some confusion about Fleet Week and Fashion Week along with some good suggestions about where to go out on interesting dates even if you’re a moleman. Tim and Tom then compare their tastes in board shorts before Tim quizzes Tom about baby etiquette at restaurants. All of this of course leads to this year’s Fall TV Preview where we discuss the new shows Almost Human, The Crazy Ones, Dracula, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Masterchef Junior, Masters of Sex, and The Million Second Quiz. We also solve a listener email concerning a stuck-up roommate and offer some dire warnings in regards to snakepeople.
Joe Randazzo (adultswim.com, The Onion) drops by to delve into a supernatural episode of Leonard Nimoy’s 1970’s showIn Search Of… Joe talks about Leonard Nimoy’s photos of nude Hasidic women, discusses UFOs, reveals his terrible anti-child-abduction “safety word” and introduces Craig to a new serial killer.
Streeter Seidell and Emily Axford join Jeff and take turns trying to impress each other with cool facts. Topics covered include Roman fashion, canine language, and three-point seatbelts.
Roger Cormier is doing great.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA
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.
Elise Czajkowski is getting the hang of this blogging thing.