Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More radio and podcast links: comedy and comedians

BBC Radio 4's Comedy page...access to (at least this week's set of) BBC audio sketch shows and sitcoms. BBC Radio 7 takes some repeats from 4 and adds some more material.

Comedy and Everything Else, Jimmy Dore and Stef Zamarano's podcast (which sometimes cross-riffs with Dore's Pacifica Radio series), notable for a pronounced though very much not doctrinaire leftist stance, and a lot of good food.

Comedy Death Ray Radio, Scott Aukerman's interview, sketch and music showcase...originally comedy/novelty music for the most part, but increasingly moving away from that as the better comedy music is growing scarce. Perhaps the most uneven of the programs listed here...can drag a bit, particularly in the lesser sessions of Aukerman's recurring games of "Would You Rather...", but also can be devastatingly hilarious...more elaborate showcases for improv parody-character sketches than most of the podcasts, as well, which often are the funniest bits. In fact, an episode in which Jimmy Pardo and his regulars filled in as hosts, and featuring an extended improv by Maria Bamford and Paul Gilmartin and music from the charming Garfunkel & Oates, might still be my favorite. Also on the Earwolf pages, the Sklar Brothers' sports and comedy podcast Sklarbro Country is also charming, if a bit literally too inside baseball, etc., to sustain my attention as readily.

Dork Forest Radio, Jackie Kashian's formerly lo-fi podcast (on lo-fi BlogTalkRadio) is a charming delving into all kinds of geekery, or what Kashian dubs the Dork Forest. (See also, The Nerdist) Uniquely among these podcasts, when on BlogTalk Radio, there was a live chatroom running alongside the live podcast...Kashian is trying to decide what she'll do about that with the new, undistorted-audio format. Kashian is also probably the most gentle of podcast hosts, though unafraid of asking, usually politely and/or self-deprecatingly, the hard questions.

Doug Loves Movies, Doug Benson's gameshow/interview podcast, the game usually all about trying to guess a movie title with as few clues as possible from Leonard Maltin's film-guides. Benson also usually has a few words to say about recent viewing experiences, and the guests are usually a mix of comedians, actors (Elisabeth Shue confirmed your suspicions about Paul Verhoeven), and occasionally Leonard Maltin.

The Firesign Theater Radio Hour as dusted off and presented by WFMU
The Firesigns refined and concentrated their best work on their records, from Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him onward, with the exception of the radio-show sampler Dear Friends where even there most of the examples taken are no longer than five minutes...the hours could ramble (even more!), but do demonstrate the influences ranging from Bob and Ray through Ken Nordine to the Goons. So far, I like the third one best. But I at least like them all.

Harry Shearer's Le Show sometimes is dismissed or criticizaed out of hand by folks on some of the podcasts...podcasts that probably wouldn't've existed without the Loooong-standing example of Shearer's mix of music, monolog, and sketches (almost always one-person prductions in which Shearer does all the voices). Shearer's wife, the excellent jazz-pop singer Judith Owen, is often heard in the musical segments.

The Long Shot, a relatively new podcast featuring the disparate quartet of comedians Eddie Pepitone, Sean Conroy, Jamie Flam, and Amber Kenny, who amusingly, acerbically chat, do audio sketches, and feature disparate that guest Tig Notaro asked them, "How do you all even know each other?"

The Nerdist podcast, a key component of the larger, features a crew spearheaded by Chris Hardwick, whose credits run from standup to cohosting Wired Science on PBS; he's most regularly visible on G4, and he and his partners, or he alone, interview a range of guests only slightly less wide-ranging than Jackie Kashian (see The Dork Forest). Hardwick in the most recent episode railed against those who criticize him for kissing his guests' asses, correctly noting that what could be cynically (if unsurprisingly) miscontrued thus is his genuine enthusiasm for speaking with the guests, riffing cheerfully, and generally trying to share his passions.

Never Not Funny, Jimmy Pardo's podcast, usually featuring Matt Belknap, the proprietor of A Special Thing, and one of the oldest of the continuing series (with Kashian's Dork Forest). The link is to the free feed, as NNF offers a free first twenty or so minutes as an enticement, then offers the rest of a given episode only to paying subscribers...Pardo's mock aggression, almost always immediately self-deflated, mixes well with his slightly retro persona.

The Pod F. Tomcast, Paul F. Tompkins's new performance and interview podcast, is as distinctive as his performances tend to least so far, with only two episodes up so far.

The Sound of Young America, etc.: gets one podcasts of TSOYA elements and also the more informal and uncensored Jordan, Jesse, Go! among other bits and pieces, including the Canadian Stop Podcasting Yourself and the college-station years of TSOYA, and archival bits from San Francisco legends Mal Sharpe and James Coyle. Colin Marshall's text reviews of podcasts are wide-ranging and thoughtful, as well as frequently funny.

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me..., NPR's primary humor series (unless we consider Car Talk also primarily a humor series), remains a pleasant and frequently hilarious news-quiz game show, with comedians and writers competing for meaningless points, and guests competing on behalf of audience members. The comparable PRI series Whad'Ya Know?, features a somewhat more rambling style and fewer guests in the gameshow seqments, though also features a fine jazz combo. CBC's comedy and whimsy series Wiretap also gets a fair amount of clearance in the States...and averages perhaps a bit better in that wise than such more popular US series A Prairie Home Companion or This American Life. I'll put in a plug here for the not quite primarily humorous series On the Media and pop-science series RadioLab. Just a notch below these is Studio 360.

Weezy and the Swish is the only "dead" podcast that I list here (at least so far), Louise Palanker and Laura Swisher's project, one of the earlier comedian podcasts, and still one of the few not hosted mostly and entirely by Caucasian men. A smattering of their episodes archived here.

WTF, the Marc Maron podcast, one of the most attention-getting as Maron probes himself and his guests usually a bit more relentlessly, yet for the most part professionally (Maron's experience on Air America and with BreakRoom Live tells) than most of his peers. A mixture of usually one-on-one interviews interspersed with a sporadic set of talk-show-style multi-guest live episodes, both eminently worth catching.

...and for more pointers to comedy audio and more, see Punchline magazine online...


Richard R. said...

Wow, Todd I'm getting overload here. Thanks for the links, but I can't imagine I'll have time to listen to them this side of Christmas. Yikes.

Todd Mason said...

And most of these are weekly...some more frequent than that! But archived. And then there are the items I mean to add, and the ones (such as video-oriented FUNNY OR DIE) that I wonder if should also be cited...

C. Margery Kempe said...

Fabooness! But if you keep looking, you'll keep finding and it will be all madness (as if it weren't already).