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 Dana Gould Hour - “I Shouldn’t Laugh”
ROBERT: You don’t often hear detailed accounts of mass shootings in comedy podcasts, but there’s always an exception. This week, Dana Gould hosts Monika Scott, comedian and self-described “public radio underling” at Santa Monica College’s KCRW. It’s difficult to keep track of all the recent gun rampages, so as a reminder, Santa Monica College had a shooter stalk its halls earlier this summer. Scott was working in the on-campus radio station at the time. Despite the morbid subject matter, the title of this episode is apt: Gould’s interview with Scott is quite funny. Gould manically interjects humor wherever he can find it (tote bag and quinoa jokes abound), and it almost always hits. Scott – like every good public radio personality – is a vivid storyteller and shares her personal account of the shooting with poise, good humor, and plenty of “Holy SHIT” moments. Following Gould’s usual format, the podcast also features segments with another guest, interspersed throughout the two-hour long episode. This time it’s a chat with Eddie Pepitone, and, as you might expect, it doesn’t really fit with the rest. I love Pepitone as much as the next comedy nerd, but the radio producer in me wanted to tell Gould, “You’ve already got gold here. Anything else will dilute it!” In any case, this episode is worth the long listen for Scott’s story, which is equal parts unnerving, moving, and hilarious.
The Nerdist - Tom Hanks Returns
MARC: Sure, he might be stumping for the film Captain Phillips and trying to hit all of the media he can along the way, but you get the feeling when Tom Hanks drops in on Chris Hardwick and Jonah Ray at The Nerdist, that he’s actually enjoying himself. In the hour he spends with them, the talk about the movie is scant and, instead of having to answer the same questions being fired at him ad nauseum by the press, Hanks relaxes, kicks back, and just converses about anything that comes up – enjoying listening to real vinyl, understanding what it is to be nerd, and sheepishly admitting he hasn’t had time to catch more than the first three episodes of Breaking Bad. Nobody dwells much on the subject but he also talks about how his lifestyle has had to shift to accommodate the fact he recently was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. This is the second time Hanks has visited the Nerdist studio but by the tone and laughter in the conversations, you’d think these guys were old friends.
Prequel - Andy Haynes
JOANNA: On this weeks episode of Prequel, hosts Neel Nanda and Tushar Singh talk to LA comedian Andy Haynes about his life before hitting the comedy scene. The Washington native, previously featured on Conan and Jimmy Fallon and a current writer on TBS’s new sitcom Ground Floor, admits that he was kind of a “bad kid” growing up. In an unexpectedly (and humorously) blasé tone, Haynes opens up about his first kiss, first car, first molester…wait, what? Exactly. The way Haynes narrates his turbulent and unsettling past shows us how misfortune can often lead to laughter — granted, some of it is comfortable. In fact, while listening to story after story about alcoholism and guns I couldn’t help but wonder, “um, why am I laughing?” In this plot-driven podcast, Haynes tells us how his life led him towards comedy and how comedy led him to sobering up. Doused in dark humor, the LA comedian’s prequel to his successful career in comedy can only be described as white middle class anarchy complete with drugs, sex and absent parents.
You Made It Weird - Dan St Germain
ELISE: With only a few weeks to go before the much-hyped debut of The Pete Holmes Show, this characteristically thoughtful episode of You Made It Weird touches on Holmes’s rapidly rising celebrity. Joined by just-about-to-break New York comic Dan St. Germain, the guys talk about YMIW-friendly topics like alcoholism, porn and eternal hellfire. But it’s the discussions about things like the feelings about Holmes from the comics in the “class” behind him and his thoughts on how nice he’s perceived to be that somehow feel the most raw and intimate. Never has a talk show host ever been quite so known, in a personal way, before his show even premieres — imagine if there were biweekly conversations documenting Conan’s pre-Late Night nerves from 1993. Having on comics like St. Germain, who bring a different perspective on Holmes’s success (while also being completely funny and fascinating in his own right), adds dimension to this world around the host, and allows all the listeners to join in his excitement about the new gig. This is must-listen podcasting.
Comedy Bang Bang - Eric Andre, Lauren Lapkus
JOANNA: Funny people and a fair share of magic realism hit up this week’s extra Bang Bang episode. During the first half of the show, Scott Aukerman kicks back with Adult Swim’s Eric Andre, who opens up about why he thinks comedians are sensitive neurotics. He even admits that he is a sucker for falling in love and musicals. Andre also gives us the scoop of how he was arrested after pulling a hidden camera prank at a town hall meeting and screamed “don’t tase me, bro” as he got pulled out by very angry sheriffs. But the interview is cut short when Aukerman’s nephew Todd, who went missing at a Carnival last week, shows up at the studio. In a way reminiscent of an ol’ Tom Hanks film, the 15-year old (actually the hilarious Lauren Lapkus) tells us how he was transformed into a 30-year old man by his iOS7 update! What follows is truly hilarious banter about time travel, magic, and comedy.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network
This week we’re talking about something neither of us is qualified to talk about in anyway whatsoever: Modern Art! But before the conversation gets all hoity-toity we discuss Tom’s love of summertime and seasonal beers. We also discuss the merits of possibly just putting MSG on all the food you eat to make it delicious and Tom recounts the time he ruined a turf soccer field by bleeding all over it.
Don Fanelli (UCB’s Stepfathers) watches the series premier of Captain Planet. Don and Craig talk about Gaia (AKA Mother Earth), the planeteers’ worthlessness and a so much more. They also say the word “Dic” a bunch of times.
This week, Sara and Nikki are joined by Sara’s comedian, documentarian, vocabularian beauScott Moran to brainstorm Halloween costumes clever enough for national TV. After a sobering foray into tragedy and inspiration, the gang lightens up towards the end with talk of drugs, cheese, and other addicting habits.
Elise Czajkowski is Splitsider’s Associate Editor.
Joanna Hausmann is a Venezuelan writer/comedian who felt weird writing this in the third person.
Robert Schoon lives in the heartland and pays less rent. He also writes about technology and media.