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.
ROB: It’s Halloween, and if you’re in the mood for a spooky (and hilarious) old-timey radio play, The Thrilling Adventure Hour has got you covered with a great episode of “Beyond Belief,” starring Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster as those two lovable, high-class alcoholic psychics, Frank and Sadie Doyle. This episode has the Doyles chancing upon some paranormal pixies they’ve never seen before — the Alfur, also known as elves, brownies, and fairy folk, among other names. If it sounds a little out of the Doyles’ usual wheelhouse, don’t worry: Their cordial encounter eventually brings them face to face with a soul-eating monster, as per usual. Once again, “Beyond Belief” tells its story with a mix of great production, highbrow humor, and straightforward silliness. A few particulars that make this episode stand out: a well-placed musical joke by the Andy Paley Orchestra, the coinage of the phrase “somnambulistic bartenderism,” and several ridiculous jaunty Elvin jingles. The kicker is that the three singing elves are played by the strangely compatible comedy trio of Comedy Bang! Bang!’s Scott Aukerman, Steppenwolf Theatre co-founder Terry Kinney, and… Ira Glass.
BRAD: It’s the beginning of the end for The Best Show, Tom Scharpling’s influential and beloved long-running radio show. Scharpling made a major announcement at the end of this week’s episode: The Best Show is ending its run in two months (more on that here), but this episode is included here not just because of Scharpling’s big news but also because it’s a great episode of the show. Kicking off with Scharpling’s tribute to Lou Reed, which includes a bunch of songs and a funny interview, the show then slides into the host’s funny fear that by buying the Velvet Underground box set he was planning to get before Reed’s death, he’s going to look like a clueless bandwagoner. There’s also a great call from Jon Wurster (as Irv Chimples, trying to call a radio show hosted by Lenny the Sports Uncle), a chat with comedian Gabe Delahaye that hopefully kicks off some great cameos in the new Entourage movie and turns the e-frame into a real thing, and an appearance by Larry Da Perv, who resurfaces here for the first time in a long time. There are only seven episodes of The Best Show yet, but I have a feeling they’ll keep getting better and better until the bittersweet end.
WTF with Marc Maron #436 - Johnny Knoxville
MARC: Having just seen — and enjoyed — Bad Grandpa, last weekend’s #1 movie, I just had to check Johnny Knoxville’s appearance on Marc Maron’s WTF this week. The two had never met before, which gave Maron the opportunity to delve deep into Knoxville’s background. Born P.J. Clapp and taking the name of his hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, the man who has the term “daredevil” as his main occupation in his Wikipedia entry clearly is a figure of fascination for Maron. Knoxville doesn’t dodge any questions and seems to relish in revealing the details of his fairly barebones beginnings as the son of a tire salesman and Sunday school teacher. He does get choked up and excuses himself when Maron begins to ask about the tragic accident that took the life of fellow Jackass veteran and close friend Ryan Dunn in 2011 (Bad Grandpa is dedicated to him). There are some inside stories about gags in the new film. (“Oh, come on. Let’s spoil it!” says Knoxville when Maron is worried about revealing too much). Toward the very end of the interview, as Maron is close to wrapping up, Knoxville gets into a story of hiring a geneologist to learn about his family’s history. He lets on that the guy discovered that a lot of inbreeding in the Clapp roots. Whether you’re a fan or a critic of the Jackass films, that does explain a lot.
JOSH: Every now and then a new podcast comes along that is so enjoyable it compels you to send out a mass email with a subject line containing an obnoxious amount of capital letters and exclamation points to properly convey your excitement. Hollywood Handbook is that podcast. Sean Clements and Hayes Davenport’s relatively new audio adventure is a hilarious parody of two self-proclaimed Hollywood A-listers who attempt to give the listener an insider’s guide on how to achieve their show biz dreams. In this week’s episode, Clements and Davenport weigh in on the latest industry news — specifically Ben Affleck’s introduction as the new Batman. The Hollywood insiders provide us with a few casting suggestions on who they believe should portray the next Caped Crusader: Bo Jackson, “one of those Metallica guys,” Tim Burton, “one of those MythBusters,” NBA defensive guru Charles Oakley, and my personal favorite, Elizabeth Smart. “If she can survive being kidnapped for six months, I think she can handle the joke man.” Later, Adam Pally joins the podcast and provides the perfect adversarial foil for Clements and Davenport to engage with. Fans of Michael Ian Black or Comedy Bang! Bang! will appreciate the clever comedic subtlety of Hollywood Handbook. From the constant mispronunciation of Hollywood projects to the hilariously overt sense of superiority the co-hosts lord over engineer Cody, Clements and Daveport’s unwavering commitment to their characters make this a highly addictive new addition to the Earwolf family.
Vomit on the Web #42 - The Vagina Episode
PABLO: Hosted by comedians Ingrid Haas and Melissa Stephens, Vomit On The Web is ostensibly a show about the the weird things that exist on the internet. But typically by the five-minute mark of each episode, whatever facade of the show having a theme is thrown out the window. And it’s definitely for the better, as the duo is at its best when going off on whatever tangent pops into their heads. This week, the hoss discuss Haas’s month-long hiatus from the show due to filming a movie in Iceland, which leads to them exploring their love of their adopted hometown, Los Angeles. They quickly switch to other topics, including: The different levels of female orgasms, anal bleaching, ugly and/or stinky vaginas, and social media’s role in the fear of being left out. Despite rarely following the premise of the podcast, Vomit on the Web works so well because of the hosts’ hilarious chemistry and unfiltered conversation that sounds like it was recorded over brunch.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network
This week we hear the epic tale of Tom’s recent time spent at the local courthouse. No, he wasn’t once again accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he was there for jury duty. Who was there with him? Well, a famous movie star you might know. (Michael Rapaport, perhaps? No, not Michael Rapaport.) And a judge and some bailiffs… you know, the whole gang.
The Birthday Boys (IFC’s The Birthday Boys) watch the infamous episode of Happy Days where Fonzie jumps a shark. The Birthday Boys deconstruct the episode, talk about befriending people in the service industry and finally reveal their favorite ice cream flavor and pizza toppings.
This week on The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show, Jeff talks to Scott Wiener about his new book Viva la Pizza and pizza boxes in general. Scott explains his interest in pizzaboxes, how he wrote the book and they discuss the different art styles on pizza boxes from around the world.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA
Rob Schoon lives in Brooklyn and writes about tech, media, comedy and culture.
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.