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.
If I Were You - HeadGum
Marc: First came the podcasts. Then came the podcast networks: Gimlet, WolfPop, SexPot Comedy. The list keeps growing — mishmashed collectives of hard-scrabble podcasts — mostly comedy-oriented but beginning to spread to other genres. The latest groupage to splashdown in Podcast Bay is HeadGum, currently sporting 11 shows with more on the way. The brainiacs behind it? Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld, who came together both working for the CollegeHumor website in the mid-aughts, well-known for their exploits as Jake and Amir, and having created their own humor-based advice podcast, If I Were You, in May of 2013. The first half of the show they sort of offer advice to each other based on their personal exploits, but its mostly chatting the shat. Then they get down to what counts as business for them: Answering questions that come in from listeners. In this recent episode, the guys mostly talk about the launch of HeadGum and what led to it, as well as the simultaneous shooting of a pilot for TV show that may or may not be coming to a Netflix near you. The listener questions seem to mostly be coming in from horny young men, asking for advice on how best to score with women. For all their laughing and scratching, the two hosts clearly have some kind of business sense about them, or at least enough gravitational pull to drag 10 other podcasts into their immediate orbit.
The Mindhouse Podcast - Lauren Adams
Leigh: While the HeadGum podcast network may be brand new, The Mindhouse Podcast, described as a less articulate WTF by host Josh Ruben, is already 12 episodes in. This week’s guest is Lauren Adams, who plays Gretchen on (the Emmy-nominated) Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and not only is it entertaining, it’s educational. You’ll learn when to wash your hands, because we all get confused about when it’s appropriate, right? Ruben and Adams, who used to be on the UCB Maude team Onassis together, discuss what it’s like acting in commercials, doing voiceover work, and the truth behind guys who play SWAT team guys on TV. Some pressing questions are also answered. Like is Ellie Kemper as wonderful as we assume she is (yes) and is working with Tina Fey as great as we think it is (also yes). Adams shares the story of when she found out she got the part on Kimmy Schmidt and, still on the high from getting the job, she went ahead with an audition for an Old Navy commercial where they were looking to cast an Amy Poehler-type. If you still watch commercials you’ll know that Amy Poehler was who they actually ended up casting. They wrap things up with some advice from Adams. If this episode is any indication of what to expect from the HeadGum network, I’m on board.
Black Men Can’t Jump in Hollywood - Beverly Hills Cop
Elizabeth: Hosted by comedians Jonathan Braylock, James III and Jerah Milligan, the podcast is devoted to exploring the question of why Hollywood doesn’t cast black men in leading roles in major motion pictures (no indie films—sorry, Spike Lee). Each episode reviews a different film featuring a black leading man, kicking off with the Eddie Murphy’s 1984 hit, Beverly Hills Cop. They start by tracking how long it takes for race to come up (about 22 minutes). Jonathan reveals that the movie was originally written for Sylvester Stallone, who dropped out about two weeks before shooting began, and they debate whether the reason the film doesn’t focus on race was because it was written for a white actor. But the burning question throughout the episode: Where was the sex scene? The lack of a sex scene between Eddie Murphy and Lisa Eilbacher causes Jerah to completely change his opinion of the movie a third of the way through the podcast, although he supplied listeners with his version of how things should have gone. There’s also the matter of the ending, which gives the message that cops can do anything is they work together and back each other up on their lies, which can be viewed very differently today given the current environment of police shootings. They also discuss whether Eddie Murphy actually gets to kill the bad guy (an autopsy is proposed) and rate the film with their system, which judges based on how much a movie helps the cause. (The cause in this case is defined as a getting to a point where a black leading man can star in a major movie and it isn’t about his race.) The lack of a sex scene and Eddie Murphy not getting to kill the bad guy on his own lead the hosts to rate it two black fists and one white palm.
High and Mighty - The Launch (w/ Jake and Amir)
Kaitlynn: The inaugural episode of High and Mighty brings the founders of the new HeadGum Network on as guests. Jon Gabrus plays host with friends Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld as the trio’s conversation helps figure out what the podcast is. The premise is discussed and the email thread deciding to name the podcast is also read aloud. Listeners get to hear three friends talk about why Apple is ruining lives by being totally confusing. What happened in the Top Gun movie and how come Jon is most knowledgeable about 1980-1990 action movies. As far as conversational podcasts go, these three guys have the obvious chemistry that makes the subjects flow without any framework or topics to discuss. It’s fun to listen to these guys talk about jokes and make fun of each other and then snap into healthy living and the importance of a good routine. The general premise is Jon learning about people’s favorite things and bonding about their passions. The jokes are aplenty and if you love Gabrus from Comedy Bang! Bang! You are sure to love a full forty-five minutes of Jon (and the catchy theme song too).
Talk of Shame - Jena Friedman’s Disastrous Travels
Leigh: The concept of the Talk of Shame podcast couldn’t be simpler or more relatable. It’s embarrassing stories from embarrassed guests. Now a part of the new HeadGum network, host Streeter Seidell sits down this week with Daily Show producer Jena Freidman to talk about what else but diarrhea. This isn’t just your run(s) of the mill diarrhea though. Friedman has several stories about travelers’ diarrhea, which we’ll all learn is a thing. A very real thing. In keeping with the theme, kind of, there’s also a story from a listener who’s night with a key lime pie didn’t end well. Seidell also shares a story of his own and raises some great points about sushi. We’ve all been embarrassed before. In fact, I’m embarrassed right now for having said diarrhea three, now four times, in this one tiny paragraph. So let’s put all the focus on other people’s embarrassing moments and forget about our own for a while.
Twinnovation - Pre-Chewed Food
Marc: Another new HeadGum podcast is Twinnovation, the first comedy podcast devoted to scams and screwloose business ideas. The host is Mike Karnell along with identical twins Dave and Jeff Rosenberg, the trio all being alumni of CollegeHumor, just like their HeadGum network chiefs Jake and Amir. In the first half of the show, the Rosenbergs pitch a couple of self-admittedly lame, improvised business ideas to Mike and each other, including a line of pre-chewed food, “because you get tired chewing all that food yourself.” Planned delectables include pre-chewed steak with Chimmy Chewy Sauce, and other vomit-inducing morsels. Jeff comes up with a line of t-shirts with removable pockets, which you can change out rather than bothering to change (and wash) the shirt as often as you probably should. The guys go round robin deciding whether they’d back, buy, or reject the inventions. After that, the listener suggestions come in and, by comparison, most make the brainfarts of the hosts sound more like winning breakthroughs one might see on SharkTank. With the exception, perhaps, of ILikeItRuff, an app that acts as a kind of Tinder for dogs. Okay, never mind. That one’s pretty bad, too. Then the guys round out the show with crazy schemes and scams that could make savvy listeners a ton of money…or a long stretch in the pen. Like forming ecstasy into lookalike Claritin-shaped pills, placing them into the over-the-counter drug’s foil pack, and selling them at destination weddings because “TSA’s not going to check every pack of Claritin.” The ideas may all be pretty bad, but the one thing they luckily have going for them is that the explaining of them is pretty damn funny.
That Was Us - Amir Blumenfeld
Kaitlynn: Singer, player of music and notable YouTuber Julia Nunes hosts this short but sweet podcast. Episode one has HeadGum founder Jake Hurwitz and this second episode has the other half of the duo with Amir Blumenfeld. “That Was Us” has a guest read or rediscover an example of who they used to be. Amir reads an email he wrote to his friend in the year 1998 when he was fifteen years old. He speaks about summer school and the movies he has seen since he left his friend. It is pretty much gibberish and nonsense and even includes a fake suicide note so he can pretend to be crazy. They discuss the high school experience and where they fell in the “coolness” spectrum and what dyslexia is. The half hour format fits the show’s premise perfectly so there is conversation without the distraction. Julia’s getting more comfortable as the host and she really lets her personality shine through to keep it upbeat and funny without added bits or riffs. Over time it will be interesting to see how the tone of the show will change with different guests she may or may not know personally. Overall it is a strong start for this podcast that is sure to gain momentum through her fanbase and future guests.
Real Good Show - You Call That a Dick?!
Pablo: Filling in the void of sports podcasts that are actually funny is Real Good Show, hosted by Twitter virtuoso Stefan “@boring_as_heck” Heck and his fellow Vancouverites Justin Morissette and John Cullen. I’m sure a lot of people who read Splitsider don’t like sports, but sports is good and comedy is good so this podcast is good by the transitive property. But it’s not even all about sports! As you’d expect from a show hosted by a guy who once roleplayed anime cybersex as Jon Taffer, there’s a whole segment devoted to the stout Bar Rescue host and his life. This week, another recurring segment, “Clip of the Week,” finally has a new clip to dethrone Bob Costas saying a relief pitcher should apologize to his deceased relatives for giving up one run in a meaningless June game. That clip in questions relates to the New York Jets’ Geno Smith getting his jaw broken by a teammate over $600 earlier this week. I won’t spoil why lunkhead ESPNer Cris Carter thinks Smith brought the sucker punch on himself, so check out RGS for their steaming hot takes on this and other important issues of the day, like the 3 Ninjas IMDB message board.
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
U2 Talkin’ U2 To Me? - U2 Talk 2 U
Fitzdog Radio - Neal Brennan Returns
Never Not Funny - Andy Daly
Truth and Iliza - Megan Koester
Sup Doc Podcast - Brent Hodge
Allegedly with Theo Von and Matthew Cole - Bruce Vilanch
Pop Culture Happy Hour - Wet Hot American Summer and Mission: Impossible
Crybabies - Amy Poehler & Julie Klausner
You Made It Weird - Keegan-Michael Key
Comedy Bang! Bang! - Ric Bic for President
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.