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.
Mohr Stories – Patton Oswalt
PABLO: Patton Oswalt recently tweeted that going on Last Comic Standing, which has just been revived after a four year hiatus, is worse for a comic’s career than going on To Catch A Predator. While LCS co-creator Jay Mohr hasn’t been involved with the show since 2004, he invited Oswalt onto his podcast to explain his comments. His resulting interview is a hilarious and honest conversation with arguably the most thoughtful and even-minded person when it comes to dissecting comedy. Oswalt’s main problem with LCS is what he deems the problem with most competition-based reality shows: They condense years of practice and struggles into one false televised moment where five minutes supposedly can make or break a career. Mohr and Oswalt round out the main discussion by touching on why Oswalt created Comedians of Comedy and why he likes performing annually for homicide detectives.
You Made It Weird – Jon Gabrus
SCOTT: Jon Gabrus (UCB, MTV’s Guy Code) puts his stamp on this episode immediately, and before host and guest have even taken their seats and put on their earphones, we are treated to two Star Wars-themed racial slurs in rapid succession. It’s clear that Gabrus has no problem making it weird and saying exactly what he’s thinking, and Holmes delights in matching Gabrus’s every move. They dive deep on how gross social media gets with self-serving tweets and posts dressed up as praise for others, and how even the act of showing up at someone’s wake is partially about putting on a show to satisfy the social contract. With the death and social media doors open, it’s not too soon to talk about Paul Walker. Gabrus detests people who feel the need to tweet jokes (especially bad ones) immediately after a celebrity’s death, and advises tweeters to be more prudent and respectful of the dead - a position that might surprise anyone familiar with Gabrus as a performer (or who heard how he opened the episode), to whom it would appear nothing is out-of-bounds. After everything else in this episode, the “God” conversation seems like it might be the tamest, but then we’re treated to the idea that there might be an obscure religious text out there that preaches eternity in exchange for fellatio, and we know that if there is indeed a heaven, it has to involve listening to Pete Holmes and Jon Gabrus talk about everything, forever.
The Cracked Podcast – Defending Your Shitty Taste with Dan O’Brien, Soren Bowie, and Liana Maeby
JOSH: This week’s Cracked Podcast is all about changing minds and shifting perceptions as Soren Bowie and Liana Maeby attempt to right the wrongs of pop culture perception. Also, if Space Jam is your (space) jam, you’ll appreciate the thoughtful deconstruction of the this classic tale of an unnatural alliance between humans and cartoons. Plus, any podcast that mentions former NBA great Shawn Bradley is a win not only in my book but America’s book as well. Cracked writer Soren Bowie attempts to make the case that the Elisabeth Shue/Val Kilmer cinematic treasure The Saint is culturally underrated. Is Shue a believable scientist? Is the term “gas baron” a thing? Is stitching up someone’s wound the apex of emotional intimacy? These questions are asked; a few are even answered. Finally, Liana Maeby takes the most controversial stance of controversial stances when she posits that The Beatles are terrible. “They have twelve very good songs and the rest are painfully mediocre or unlistenable,” Maeby argues. Did Maeby’s argument convince her co-hosts? Listen to this week’s engaging episode of the Cracked Podcast to find out!
Hollywood Handbook – Michael Showalter
ZOE: While this week’s episode drags a bit in the first half, it picks up once the interview with guest Michael Showalter gets going. Showalter is a great fit for the show’s premise, meeting each far-fetched observation with NPR-worthy “mmm-hmms,” a talent he’s been exercising in his Topics podcast. When asked how he gets into the “funny zone,” Showalter replies, “I just so wasn’t ready for that. I wasn’t ready to go that deep.” It’s this affected nonchalance that gives this week’s episode a needed mid-show perk. Sean Clements and Hayes Davenport eventually steer the conversation towards the casually inflated moments the show strives for, like a recap of Showalter’s simulated sex scene with Taylor Momsen in the new indie Hands of Meat (which is a potential Kickstarter I’d actually donate to). Another highlight is hearing how Showalter designed Crystal Light’s latest mascot, Mr. Crystal Light, an animated version of himself voiced by Tobey Maguire (Showalter’s voiceover didn’t test well with audiences as it wasn’t sincere or earnest enough). The episode would have benefitted from more time with the no-biggie bombast that Michael Showalter has perfected, but it’s worth a listen for the moments he—to borrow a favorite Topics term—unpacks it.
The Trev & Ben Show – Trev & Ben’s Shite Sized Chunks
MARC: England’s The Trev & Ben Show came from out of nowhere, jumping over 1,000 places to get into Stitcher’s Top 100 Comedy Podcasts last week. Hosts Trevor Smith and Ben Harmer do a two-hour Sunday morning internet radio show in Croydon, which drops as a podcast. Then mid-week they crank out their Shite Sized Chunks podcast, which runs roughly 15 minutes. On the former, they’re not allowed to swear, run contests like “Crack The Code” (where you try to decipher what something like “18 Ms in an RM” might mean) and “Telly Trivia.” In Shite Sized Chunks, the boys let their hair down, recap the previous show, curse like sailors, and cover one or two topics that seem to rub them the wrong way. (“I hate Christmas shopping because the shops are heated and I start sweating.”) They climbed another 10 places this week. Podcasting continues to amaze.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network
This week Tim discusses having to find a new chiropractor who isn’t a racist, and his extensive collection of swords and letter openers. The idea of the Joker surrounding himself with henchmen with heart conditions is dissected before moving onto the main topic: Open Letters.
Michael Kayne (UCB Theatre) keeps the Thanksgiving spirit going with The West Wing episode ‘Shibboleth.’ Join Michael and Craig as they try to figure out the actual meaning of the word ‘shibboleth,’ dare to listen as Michael fights back tears while watching the episode, and find out why this episode is sponsored by George Brett’s diarrhea.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Scott Reynolds is a comedian and writer in Brooklyn, NY.
Zoe Schwab is a writer/fraud living in NYC who is somehow up-to-date with ABC Family’s Melissa & Joey.
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.