Archives for the month of: March, 2012

Professor Blastoff with Tig Notaro, David Huntsberger, and Kyle Dunnigan:

Tig, Kyle, and David have a fantastic chemistry (no science-pun intended) with one another, and there is an incalculable number of delightful moments between the hosts in this humorously inquisitive show.

The basic premise is this:
Three comedians burrow into an old-fangled laboratory through a mysterious hatch, launching into discussion topics ranging “from scientific to philosophical to metaphysical.”  They often feature expert guests to provide a professional perspective on the topic at hand.

Each episode contains a fairly casual conversation loosely based on a specific topic or theme, leaving enough room for each of the hosts to weave in some personal tales and light improv.

I would recommend this show to anybody who enjoys talking with their friends about aliens (episode 3), or ghosts (episode 12), or immortality (episode 17), or how annoying other humans can be with their horribly obnoxious behavior (episode 19).

Professor Blastoff is a lot of fun.  The show has found a nice combination of comedy tangents, hints of hard science, interesting topics, and, most importantly, genuinely amiable hosts.

Pretty soon, you’ll hankering for some forced laughter, spur-of-the-moment doo-wop harmonies, improvised ancient riddles, and enthusiastic exclamations of “THAT’S NUTS!”
Don’t worry, this will all make sense after you navigate your way through some PB episodes.

Welcome to the hatch, Blastronaut!

 

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Who Charted? with Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack

Do you love pop culture charts? Always trying to keep track of who’s who in the worlds of dubstep, math rock, and independent record stores? Well, none of these things are necessary to enjoy Who Charted? on the Earwolf network, but they may earn you some street cred at your local trivia night. But, be careful, some people get way too into trivia night, and they may poison your next basket of buffalo honey habanero poppers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, you overly confident dingleberry.

Who Charted? is one of my favorite shows. I rarely miss an episode, and I think Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack are my favorite chart-centric podcast duo. Who Charted? loosely relies on entertainment charts as a springboard for the hosts and their guests to divulge personal stories based on the charts du jour. Who Charted? gives you the opportunity to hear Paul F. Tompkins riff on reality shows on a cable television chart, or Marc Maron investigate some country artists he has never heard of.

Although much of the media on top charts is pure junk, the show never gets bogged down in sanctimonious critique, and the guests usually find a way to weave the charts into entertaining conversation. Who Charted? doesn’t function as an advocate of the charts’ stock, nor does it exist to simply rip apart mainstream media; the charts serve as a non-invasive backbone for the dialogue.

Kremer’s mirthful nonchalance compliments Kulap’s infectious enthusiasm, and the two chartists build a welcoming environment in which an impressive number of skillful comedians explore their reactions to anything from 90’s hip-hop to modern reality television. The show keeps up an incredibly jovial atmosphere, partially because of Kremer’s original theme songs used to introduce each category (Kremer also operates under his hip-hop moniker Dragon Boy Suede).

Recently, the team added a second show to their weekly output titled Two Charted?, giving Kulap and Howard a chance to bring in their own personalized charts of things they enjoy. These shorter episodes provide a platform for them to geek out a bit on personal favorites, and if you enjoy the regular Who Charted? episodes, check these out as well.

Happy listening!

It’s not easy to develop a natural, charming chemistry between performers, it may take years of work and training with each other to develop such a bond.  Or, you can all come from the same gene pool- that helps also!

The My Brother, My Brother, and Me podcast presents the witty, improvisational adventures of three siblings as they offer advice to real-life morons seeking relief from their puzzling predicaments as found in their Yahoo! Answers requests.  They also answer questions from listeners and friends of the show, but the Yahoo! Answers queries offer the real comedy gold.

It’s refreshing to hear the chemistry between the McElroy bros because they genuinely make each other laugh without overdoing it.  Their treatment of the questions leans more towards absurd than cruel, never taking the easy way out to poke fun at the often ridiculous pleas for guidance.

Here is an example of an actual Yahoo! Answers question they use as a launching pad for one of my favorite portions of riffing.  (The original question, complete with ludicrous responses, can be found here.)

It reads:

“Hi, i was wondering if anyone knew where the website boyskinz has gone. I wanted to buy a thong form there but saw they no longer where up. I also wanted to buy my son one since he saw mine and wanted to try it. No im not a pedo, hes 15 and can speak for himself thanks.

Does anyone know where i can buy adult and youth boy thongs?

Thanks.”

If you wish to hear how the McElroys deal with this perfectly legitimate request, check out episode #88 “The Lion, The Witch, and The Boyskinz.”

My Brother, My Brother, and Me is part of the Maximum Fun family, and new episodes drop every Monday.

The Mental Illness Happy Hourhttp://mentalpod.com/


“Everybody I know is bizarrely, beautifully, fucked up in some weird way…”

-Greg Behrendt talking with host, Paul Gilmartin

All forms of entertainment are ways for us to shut out the horrific thoughts of our inevitable expiration as we meander through the deadening events on which the journey of life is constructed, right?  So why not make a show about how we deal with those thoughts?  Genius.  I can smell the cash from advertisers rolling in already!

Paul Gilmartin’s The Mental Illness Happy Hour is an interview show summarized at the beginning of each episode as “an hour of honesty about all the battles in our heads.”  Gilmartin makes it very clear that the show is not a substitute for professional help, but rather “a waiting room that hopefully doesn’t suck.”

I chose this show as my first post for a few reasons:

  • Unlike many podcasts, TMIHH doesn’t feel like a promotional tool for those involved.
  • The topics and tone used to describe them are seldom found in any mainstream media.
  • It’s genuinely funny throughout each episode, despite the weight and murkiness of the subject matter.
  • By avoiding directly administering advice, the listener can glean subtle and profound insight into serious questions they may or may not have about mental health.
  • Nothing seems sensationalized for dramatic effect.

One of my favorite things about the podcast medium is the depth interviews reach without the interference of advertisers and the temporal limitations imposed by television or radio.  Gilmartin and his guests find themselves diving into personal stories and constructive digressions that would never survive the hasty editing of most talk shows, and these moments of intimate disclosure are the core on which this show is built.

Paul Gilmartin’s background as a comedian coupled with his own experience with mental conflict seem to give him a unique ability to traverse these delicate conversations with the appropriate amount of inherently dark humor while retaining a manner of sincerity.  Likewise, many of the guests are comedians, performers, and writers who are able to express their stories in an engaging fashion without the timbre of a rehearsed performance.

I haven’t listened to every episode yet, but here are a few that I would highly recommend:

  • Kulap Vilaysack: 10/14/11
  • Paul F. Tompkins: 11/11/11
  • Greg Behrendt: 6/3/11
  • Rob Delaney: 1/6/12

I discovered this show by searching for comedians in iTunes, and I initially checked out episodes based on the guests, but I’d urge you to listen to episodes that may not include a familiar name, they are equally as enjoyable as many of the episodes with more widely known artists.

Enjoy!

-Jim

Here is a quick bio of Paul Gilmartin from The Mental Illness Happy Hour’s website:

“Since 1995 Paul Gilmartin has been a co-host on TBS’ Dinner and a Movie, and a stand-up comedian since 1987. His credits include Comedy Central Presents: Paul Gilmartin, numerous Bob and Tom albums, comedy festivals and the Late Show with Craig Ferguson. He is also a frequent guest on the Adam Carolla podcast, performing political satire as right-wing Congressman Richard Martin.

Paul was thrilled to be diagnosed with clinical depression in 1999 because it meant he wasn’t just an asshole. By 2003, he realized he was still an asshole and an alcoholic. Since 2003 he has been sober, mostly happy and a tiny bit less of an asshole. He leads a happy life in Los Angeles with a patient, loving wife and two spoiled dogs.”

Hello,
I’ve started this blog to help spread audio entertainment to those willing to fill their iPods with an eclectic mix of sounds of the non-music variety.
The posts on this site are not necessarily reviews. Who am I to judge the countless hours of free media available on iTunes?  There are enough venues on the internet to read snarky reviews of just about anything.  So, instead of using this as an opportunity to bash the hell out of things I don’t like, I’ll simply post recommendations of the podcasts I find myself listening to regularly.  There are plenty of people who have not yet tapped this incredible medium for its engaging, humorous, and educational potential, and this is my attempt to help spread the word.

Thanks for checking it out!
-Jim

PS-
If you have any interest in contributing a recommendation, please let me know, it would be great to get some more voices on here!