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.
WTF with Marc Maron – Will Ferrell
MARC: Marc Maron hits his 450th episode with style, bagging Will Ferrell for the honors. It probably helps that Ferrell is stumping hard for Anchorman 2, but this is a very non-press junkety interview. Ferrell is relaxed and seems to relish delving out details of his middle-class Southern California upbringing, his early improv and sketch training with the Groundlings, and the grueling audition and interview process he went through to join Saturday Night Live. Maron not only cops to his predetermination that he’s expecting Ferrell to be hilarious before he rolls the interview, but you can hear that anticipation in his voice during the chat – up until he lets Ferrell know about it. Graciously, the “funniest guy alive” tells the host that the expectation seems to always be there. Moment defused, the interview rolls on and it’s every bit as informative, entertaining and, not to worry, the humor level does not disappoint. (Side note: Maron’s podcast passed 100 million downloads this week).
Doug Loves Movies – Will Forte, Bob Odenkirk, Scott Aukerman, and Chris Cubas
PABLO: With one week left before the annual star-studded “12 Guests of Christmas” show, Santa Benson has spoiled us by prematurely unwrapping an episode filled with awesome comedians. Competing for the chance to send a lucky audience member on a four-day cruise with Weezer (not a euphemism) are Scott Aukerman, Chris Cubas, and from the soon-to-be-Oscar-nominated movie Nebraska, Bob Odenkirk and Will Forte. The latter two play brothers in Alexander Payne’s latest flick and both give details on eagerely awaited follow-ups to two of their most famous roles (Saul Goodman and MacGruber). Speaking of awards season, Benson and his guests discuss Dallas Buyers Club and all the other AIDS-related movies that Aukerman’s dad won’t see. For fans of the Leonard Maltin Game, you’ll be delighted by an extra-long and competitive episode that features a DLM first: the winning movie is tattooed on one of the guests… who doesn’t even get a chance to play in that round. Ouch.
Topics with Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter - The Middle East
ZOE: First of all, congratulations to Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter for covering 90% of their topic this week, the Middle East. The duo has a guideline — not to be confused with their rule of having no rules — of covering at least 80% of their weekly topic. This is followed by a suggestion — not to be confused with a rule or guideline — that listeners “get all the way to 100%” on their own. With such a complicated and delicate issue such as the Middle East, this listener was relieved she only had to cover the remaining 10% on her own. It also meant that it was an ideal topic for these two to cover, if only to hear Michael Ian Black pronounce “Israel” with the exaggerated gusto of a self-proclaimed Francophile ordering a croissant at Starbucks. What we learn this week is that “there are so many guys,” that “it’s a lot to absorb,” and that Muhammad was played by Keanu Reeves in Little Buddha… maybe. This podcast feels like the embodiment of a John Mulaney joke, where he says that unlike kids, adults have the ability to bullshit about any given topic no matter how little they know about it. Black and Showalter revel in this, adding spot-on smugness of talk radio hosts who clearly aren’t experts on anything. And in case you were wondering, yes, they do solve the conflict in the Middle East. Does it involve Google Translate? Probably. Are they exhausted after thinking so hard? They are tapped out. Have I listened to this twice? Yes, this was definitely one of their most important episodes.
Wits - Paul F. Tompkins and Rhett Miller
ROB: If you haven’t heard Wits yet, it’s kind of like A Prairie Home Companion for the next generation. This means a couple things. It is a public radio show (produced in Minnesota, too), so the humor is a little tamer than other podcasts. But it’s also a high-production variety show with a great in-house band, a versatile host, and well thought-out sketches — and the show gets great comedians like Hannibal Buress, Maria Bamford, and, this week, Paul F. Tompkins. In this episode, Tompkins reveals to host John Moe the behind-the-scenes development of some of his characters, including Cake Boss (Cake Boss!) – a character that Moe insightfully thinks contains a touch of Jerry Lewis. Unlike A Prairie Home Companion, there are no drawn-out, down-home monologues on Wits, replaced instead by sketches you might find on the live Paul F. Tompkins Show, like “Amazon Review Theater,” which Tompkins has done on the show before (and you can find on YouTube), where Tompkins plays the part of Amazon reviewers who gave one-star reviews to celebrated classics. This second installment is even better, as the Wits crew has found some spectacularly stupid critics of Good Night Moon, The Grapes of Wrath, and especially Beowulf (“too old”). Rhett Miller (of Old 97’s and an old friend of Tompkins) is the musical guest, and contributes to some of the comedy as well – including a Wizard of Oz sketch portraying the petty politics within the Winkie Guard that ensues after the Wicked Witch is killed. Fans of Tompkins’s attention to language will love the detailed debate over a classic redundant phrase from the movie, “Please! And take it with you.” With so many pure-comedy podcasts out there, Wits isn’t always a top choice, but the show seems to find its rhythm whenever Tompkins in town.
This Week on the Splitsider Podcast Network
This week we drone on about drones (HAHA just kidding, that’s just a joke… a preview of some of the hilarity you’ll hear in this episode), but not the controversial scary kind. Tom has become obsessed with Amazon’s recently announced prototypical drone delivery service and has some big plans for when its implemented.
Dave Bluvband (UCB Theatre, The Chris Gethard Show) visits Craig’s apartment to watch an old episode of Groucho Marx’s game show You Bet Your Life with guest Ray Bradbury. Dave and Craig talk Marx Brothers, Orson Welles, old TV and — well I guess you’ll just have to listen to find out what else.
This week on the Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show, Jeff is joined by the creator of Snood, David Dobson. They talk about how he got into programming and video games, how Snood became so popular and went “viral”, and what the poems in Snood were for.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Rob Schoon lives in Brooklyn and writes about tech, media, comedy and culture.
Zoe Schwab is a writer/fraud living in NYC who is somehow up-to-date with ABC Family’s Melissa & Joey.