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 Todd Barry Podcast - Mike Birbiglia
ROB: Sometimes you just want to listen to two funny comedians having an informal chat about comedy - no bits, special segments, or shocking revelations. That’s The Todd Barry Podcast at its best, and this week’s episode, with guest Mike Birbiglia, is a great example. Barry and Birbiglia talk shop for about an hour, mostly about what it’s like to be a comedian: bad crowds (Barry thinks Chappelle’s walk-off was inspired), whether it’s a good idea to drink or not before a show, what makes for good crowd work, what theater sizes are the most comfortable, and the unglamorous aspects of touring with a glamorous rock band. Since these two are a couple of the most soft-spoken comedians in business (one famous for being very genuine, the other definitively sarcastic) the episode is, for lack of a better word, chill. But entertaining. And Barry gets Birbiglia to talk about the behind-the-scenes aspects of some of his most famous stories from Sleepwalk with Me and My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, of course peppering the conversation throughout with Barry’s quips and wry observations. The pair could actually make for an interesting comedy team, if that notion wasn’t exactly antithetical to both of their approaches to comedy.
The K Ohle with Kurt Braunohler - Get Lost with Dan St. Germain
ELISE: The most kidnappy comedy podcast on the scene gets awesomely weird this week with an episode that host Kurt Braunohler describes in the intro as “a doozy.” This episode of “Get Lost” sums up what I wanted “Get Lost” to be, almost in every way.” It’s a fun, bonkers episode with standup Dan St. Germain, who is, per usual, blindfolded and taken to a secret location near Los Angeles. Once they’re there, however, their adventures get pretty creepy. I don’t want to give away the punchline to their journey, but suffice it to say it involves Scientology, removing their socks and shoes, and the question, “How open are you to trespassing?” As much as they joke about it, there are moments that really do sound like the opening of a found footage horror movie, about two podcasting comics who are decide are really into urban exploration. Who wouldn’t watch that?
The Champs - Aries Spears
PABLO: Unlike SNL and its scores of movie stars, notable cast members of the much-maligned MADtv never had a clear career path once their Saturday night sketch years were over. Some found steady sitcom work, others fell back into obscurity, and two managed to create a hit sketch show of their own. In Aries Spears’s case, the former standup decided to return to the comedy clubs where he started his career. Outside of a live episode of WTF, Spears hasn’t made many appearances on the podcast circuit, so he wastes little time in unloading what’s on his mind: respect and recognition in the entertainment industry. Spears and hosts Neal Brennan and Moshe Kasher discuss how important the two R’s, whether coming from Hollywood executives or Chris Rock, can be to a comic’s career. When Spears remarks that talented people not receiving the validation they deserve is a tragedy, the trio turn the discussion towards Patrice O’Neal. Brennan reminisces about asking the late, great comic to join a writing staff, but only if O’Neal agreed not to be an asshole. Ultimately, O’Neal conceded after a two-hour argument that he couldn’t guarantee playing nice. Would a showrunner be getting the very best of his comedic brain if he wasn’t busting balls and being his usual grouchy self? Probably not. The story encapsulates the episode’s conversation about how performers who create truthful, uncompromising work will often find their talent only appreciated by a small sliver of the viewing public.
Nerdist Writers Panel #107: Structure of a Sitcom & the Rise of the Anti-sitcom
JOANNA: The Nerdist takes us to the ATX Television Festival where a panel of heavyweight writers discuss new comedy formats and the changing world of television. Throughout the 20th century, technological advances inevitably revolutionized the way America got their comedy fix. Vaudeville stages were replaced with the radio, the radio was then left behind for the movie theater and then advent of broadcast television brought to life the iconic American sitcom. But how is it changing now? It’s no surprise that the sitcom itself has changed drastically since its inception as the rules of television and its love-affair with comedy continues to evolve. Dan Harmon (creator, Community), Paul Scheer (creator, NTSF:SD:SUV), Dave Finkel (New Girl; 30 Rock), Tim Doyle (Last Man Standing), and Rob Schrab (director, Mindy Project, Childrens Hospital) tell us how they go about crafting episodes, how they balance the thin line between comedy and tragedy, and how the shows they grew up with differ from the ones they write today.
Here’s The Thing #50 - Guest Chris Columbus
MARC: I don’t know that Alec Baldwin’s show counts as a comedy podcast per se, but I have a weird connection to his latest guest and, since they’ve both done a lot of funny projects on screens both large and small, let’s cut Here’s The Thing some slack. My connection to Chris Columbus goes back 33 years, before he was a renowned film “triple threat” (writer/director/producer.) I was producing a morning radio show in San Francisco and the host, Gene Nelson, thought it would be funny on Columbus Day to call Christopher Columbus. Any Christopher Columbus. Since it was 6 in the morning in San Francisco, I picked one at random from the New York City phone book and that turned out to be a young, eager, wannabe film student who was happy to play along. A few years later, as movies The Goonies and Young Sherlock Holmes emerged, I realized they were written by the same Chris Columbus. Baldwin gets him talking about those projects and many more – from Adventures In Babysitting, Home Alone, and Mrs. Doubtfire, all the way through the first three Harry Potter films, to his latest as producer on The Help – uncovering that what seemed like an easy path to success was more the route of a hard-working idealistic dreamer who also caught a few lucky breaks along the way.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network
This week, Tom takes the helm and is given free reign to talk about anything he wants. Naturally, he turns the conversation to dog-related matters, recounting a recent trip to a hipster veterinarian. We also talk about the logistics of veterinarians treating all different kinds of animals and whether or not you can accurately treat a dog’s illnesses with information you find on the internet. Rounding out the animal talk, we discuss the strange case of a missing pet parrot that haunts the neighborhood.
You Can’t Do That On Television writer Robert Black joins Craig to watch an episode he wrote titled “Outer Space.” Robert explains how it took eight months of waiting to get a job at YCDTOTV, talks about being the only person to slime Alanis Morissette, gives a WORLD EXCLUSIVE on the plot of the YCDTOTV movie that could have been and much more.
This week is The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show’s 100th episode! To celebrate, Jeff brought in his mom to help him share some stories about his life. They talk about his childhood, what she thought of the movies Jeff liked, what she thinks about him working at CollegeHumor and much much more.
Elise Czajkowski is an Associate Editor at Splitsider
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA
Joanna Hausmann is a Venezuelan writer/comedian/fro-yo enthusiast .
Robert Schoon lives in the heartland and pays less rent. He also writes about technology and media.