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. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy.
I Was There Too - There Will be Blood with Paul F. Tompkins
Marc: How many podcasts can one man do? Or make that TWO men in this case of the debut episode of I Was There Too, a brand new show on the brand new Wolfpop spin-off from the Earwolf network. Hosted by Matt Gourley, familiar to comedy podcast listeners as part of Superego, co-host of James Bonding with Matt Myra, and a fixture on the Podcast Pilot Project with Andy Daly. His new show is the brainchild of Jeff Ulrich, the recently departed CEO of Earwolf, who asked Gourley if he’d shepherd in the new concept. Very simply, Gourley locates actors who were somehow connected to well-known movies or specific famous scenes in some infamous films and has them on to recount the experience. But he’s not going after the big-name leads in the films. He wants to hear from the bit part players, the extras, the walk-on schlubs who may have never had appeared in another movie again. For the show’s debut, Gourley’s tapped the hardest-working voice in podcasting (and fellow Superego castmate) Paul F. Tompkins. Tompkins is known as well for his appearances on the Thrilling Adventure Hour, Comedy Bang! Bang!, The Dead Authors Podcast, as well as the sporadically appearing Paul F. Tompkast. What he is less well-known for is this dramatic acting turn, which occurred when he was invited by director Paul Thomas Anderson to shoot two days on There Will Be Blood and delivered lines in the first scene with dialogue featuring Daniel Day Lewis. Tompkins has distinct and hilarious recollections of the pair of days on set, including what a powerful presence Lewis was: “You’ve heard how intense he is but it’s not true — he’s the most intense person on the face of the Earth.” I’m looking forward to the rather unique perspective that this show looks likely to provide.
Crybabies - Christopher Guest
Leigh: Crybabies, hosted by Sarah Thyre and Susan Orlean, is one of the podcasts that premiered this week on the new Wolfpop network. If the name of the show hasn’t already tipped you off, Crybabies is a podcast that celebrates the things that make people cry. As people who love and work in comedy, Orlean and Thyre discuss why it’s the sad stuff that that sticks with them and why people like that feeling so much they even seek it out. Both hosts, along with guest Christopher Guest, discuss something that’s triggered that feeling for them. After talking about actors who have the skill to make themselves cry on command (quote of the episode, hands down, goes to: “There are some people who can be porn actors and they can get an erection on film, and there are other people can cry on film”), they veer into an interesting conversation about teaching things like improv and writing and whether or not you can truly learn these types of creative skills. I’m excited for what’s to come on future episodes of Crybabies, especially since they’ve already nailed the art of the live cry in the first episode alone. Also! Listen all the way to the end to hear the awesome theme song in its entirety.
U Two Talkin’ U2 2 Me Too? Yes. - From Boy to Under A Blood Red Sky
Pablo: Only a few dozen people attended the Sex Pistols’$2 1976 gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester. But despite that low turnout, historians say nearly every person inside was influenced to start their own band (The Smiths, The Fall, The Buzzcocks, Joy Division). While U Two Talkin’ U2 2 Me Too? Yes. probably won’t prove to be the podcast equivalent of Morrissey and Johnny Marr joining forces, it adds yet another layer to one of the most meta podcasts of this decade’s boom. Hosted by drummer/podcaster Tony Thaxton (formerly of Motion City Soundtrack) and Todd Cooper, U Two is both different and familiar; different in that neither host is a U2 superfan like Adam Scott Aukerman but familiar in that they rarely talk about U2 in a podcast ostensibly about the four lovable lads from Liverpool. Time will tell what direction the T’s go in with their comprehensive and encyclopedic compendium of all things U Talkin’ U2 To Me?, but it’s safe to say there will be bits, college girls, and maybe even an in-podcast podcast in this podcast about a podcast.
Dining with Doug and Karen - Matt Besser and Carb&Nation Truck
Elizabeth: Matt Besser joins Doug Benson and Karen Anderson to chat and chew in the latest Dining with Doug and Karen. The Carb&Nation food truck provides the meal which includes the Belly Bun, a bao with miso glazed pork belly, baby Yukon gold potatoes with romanesco sauce, bacon-wrapped chorizo-stuffed Medjool dates, and a short rib flatbread sandwich. They kick things off by talking about the new UCB Sunset, Amy Poehler’s book, and handing out candy to children on Halloween, including this year’s influx of Frozen princesses, whatever their names are. The conversation turns to food and Besser gives an impression of his aunt’s orgasmic eating sounds, and pitches the ideas of carbonated milk and food truck drag racing. Besser also plugs his upcoming (November 10–14) Adult Swim infomercial parody “In Search of Miracle Man,” which he made with Rich Fulcher of The Mighty Boosh. The overall takeaway of the episode is that you should not tell Matt Besser about what you had for Thanksgiving dinner (or any meal, really) because it will make him nauseous. You can skip telling the rest of us while you’re at it.
The Great Wits/Thrilling Adventure - Crossover Show
Rob: This week’s episode of Thrilling Adventure Hour and Wits are the same, because the two decided to do a crossover show. For new listeners who might not know about these podcasts, it’s a twofer: you get a pretty good taste of each show’s sense of humor in one hour of listening. Guests Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster stay in character as TAH’s best (in my opinion) leads – the boozy, old-timey New York upper-crust clairvoyants, Frank and Sadie Doyle. For fans, it’s fun hearing the Doyles interact in “real world” situations, even though the Q&A with host John Moe is clearly scripted. Speaking of which, I have to mention that this crossover is officially on Wits’ turf, meaning the comedy plays mostly by NPR’s rules: It’s pretty PG, inoffensive, and sometimes immoderately hokey. And Moe’s comic timing just can’t match that of Tompkins and Brewster, so the funniest parts end up being long stretches of dialogue (definitely written by TAH’s Acker and Blacker) between just those two. But even if you’re not a fan of the tamer, Minnesotan comedy of Wits, this crossover is a worthy and fascinating listen just for the cultural anthropology of it. Take Wits, add the strongest part of old-timey podcast TAH, and then throw in Weird Al Yankovic, and this episode just might represent the apex of the coming generation’s card-carrying, totebag… well, toting, public radio comedy aesthetic.
Rotten Tomatoes - Holiday Movie Preview
Kaitlynn: Rotten Tomatoes, the website devoted to film reviews and news, is one of the featured podcasts on new podcast network Wolfpop, and the “Holiday Movie Preview” episode is a great entry into this existing podcast. Editor-in-Chief Matt Atchity and Senior Editor Grae Drake speak in depth about new releases for the holidays. Their entertaining discussions play off their knowledge of film with this week’s guests (and fellow RT editors). Watching their early Oscar predictions should be on your personal to-do list. The in-depth film discussion is a perfect companion piece to the ever popular Doug Loves Movies. These two podcasts go together like an intellectual older sister and a young, playful class clown. If you’re a film lover, this is another one to fit into your listening schedule each week.
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
My Sexy Podcast - Liza Trayger - Cat Calling, The Simpsons and Jian Ghomeshi
Lou Reads the Internet - Louis Revisits the Forums of Opiophile.com
Sklarbro Country - Ray Romano/Mike Royce
Ronna & Beverly - Ghost of Bob Odenkirk
Sawbones - Ebola
What A Pair of Trousers! - Comedy
You Made it Weird - Larry Charles
SModcast Edumacation - Finding Emo
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.
Rob Schoon lives in Brooklyn and writes about tech, media, comedy and culture.