From current stars of great television comedy to a man behind classic television comedies of the past, last week’s podcast highlights had them all and more. If you get tired of hearing about what makes good comedy and just want to listen to good comedy, there’s plenty for you too. And, if you’re in no mood to laugh at all, well you may want to just skip last week’s highlights completely.
Bullseye: Last week’s Bullseye came close to reaching podcast perfection. Host Jesse Thorn began the show with an interview of comedian and actor Keegan-Michael Key, whose television show Key & Peele is currently in its last season on Comedy Central. Key reflected on how his outsider status as a child and young adult influenced his comedy and discussed the very deliberate approach he and Jordan Peele have taken to creating a show that is constantly challenging viewers’ expectations. Tituss Burgess, who plays Titus Andromedon on the Netflix show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, also joined Thorn last week to talk about the show and his own experience growing up different from those around him. Burgess also talks about how Kimmy Schmidt has changed his public wine ordering habits. If that wasn’t enough, Thorn ended the episode with an homage to one of the great Chevy Chase films of all time: Fletch. Come on guys! It’s all ball bearings nowadays!
Gratitude & Trust: Garry Marshall is a living television and movie legend, and he joined Gratitude and Trust last week to discuss his remarkable career with hosts Tracey Jackson and Paul Williams. Marshall covered seven decades of work, from his early days working on radio while stationed with the Army in Korea, to his hit television shows of the 70s and 80s, to his transition to film directing. Throughout, Marshall delighted Jackson and Williams with small stories from behind the scenes of his famous work, like the reason Happy Days spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi was so popular in South Korea (hint, Chachi means something entirely different in Korean). Seasoned podcast listeners will feel as though they’ve heard Marshall a hundred times before from Paul F. Tompkins’ impressions on shows like the Pod F. Tompkast and Comedy Bang! Bang!, but the real man proved no less entertaining.
Improv 4 Humans: Matt Besser celebrated the 200th episode of his podcast with three of the earliest guest improvisers from his show: Andy Daly, Brett Gelman and Sean Conroy. The group improvised scenes around Gelman’s inability to find a parking spot in the Earwolf parking lot, a patient visiting the lion-killing dentist after his return from Africa, and as usual, a number of scenes based on crap on YouTube. Besser gets no love from his own network on his 200th, but you can show it by listening in to last week’s episode.
The Allusionist: Last Wednesday, Helen Zaltzman turned the focus of her linguistics podcast to word games. To understand what makes a good word game, Zaltzman interviewed game inventor and founder of Oxford Games, Leslie Scott. Scott talked about the necessity for competition in any good game as well as the importance and particular difficulty of naming a game. She also talked specifically about Jenga, her most famous game, the Swahili origins of its name and how Hasbro wanted to change the name to something more pragmatic for the U.S. market. Luckily, Scott won out.
Road Work: Dan Benjamin added yet another podcast to his long resume with last week’s release of Road Work. Benjamin is joined on the podcast by musician and podcast veteran in his own right, John Roderick. The two kicked off their new show with discussions of Roderick’s theories on red lights and democracy, Benjamin’s rather detailed instructions for making the perfect scrambled eggs, and a debate about a thing called a Fluffernutter, which Roderick described as “Elvis food.”