Last week’s podcast highlights are packed with riveting stories and personalities, the types of shows you want to listen to again and again. Two podcasts featured reunions of sorts, bringing together old friends and colleagues from the comedy and podcast worlds. Another show, dedicated to the work of a star actor, managed to snag an equally notable director for an hour and a half of amazing podcasting. And then, just to round out the week, there were stories of sex and death. Dive in!
Coinciding with the release of their new Netflix series, W/ Bob & David, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross appeared on last week’s Comedy Bang! Bang! CBB host Scott Aukerman wrote and performed on the new series as well as Bob and David’s original sketch comedy show, Mr. Show, so the appearances weren’t surprising but they certainly were entertaining. Interestingly, Cross and Odenkirk made separate visits to the CBB studio, so the show comes in two parts: first, the interview with Odenkirk and second the interview with Cross. Along the way, the three are joined by the usual outlandish characters. Odenkirk’s interview included an appearance by CBB regular Reverend Robert Parsimone, played by yet another contributor to Mr. Show and W/ Bob & David, Paul F. Tompkins. Cross’ interview included a new character to the show, life coach Zin Bradley, played by Saturday Night Live writer Mike O’Brien. With such sketch comedy experience came great comedy expectations, which I’m happy to say were easily met.
Grantland podcast fans rejoice! Bill Simmons has officially launched his own podcast network (the Bill Simmons Podcast Network or “BSPN”) featuring his own show as well as a new pop culture/sports podcast, Channel 33. Channel 33 is really more of a podcast channel, as the name suggests, in the same vein as, and including some of the same people from, the old Grantland Pop Culture podcast. The new podcast will feature several separate shows in the same feed, including The Watch, Sources Say and The Juliet Show. The Watch stars old friends and podcast cohorts Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald talking TV, similar to their prior Grantland show, Hollywood Prospectus, and in their first show they picked up where they last left off, breaking down The Leftovers, Fargo and Homeland. Sources Say is for basketball rumor junkies. Hosted by Ryan and Juliet Litman, the first episode gave a taste of what’s to come with Ryan and Litman using the recent Houston Rockets coaching change to springboard into a discussion of the off-the-court life of Rockets star James Harden. Finally, with The Juliet Show, Litman picks up with her own take on pop culture and entertainment. Simmons and fellow Grantland alum Wesley Morris joined Litman for her first episode as they discussed the new Adele album and romcoms. There is likely more to come on Channel 33, but if you were a fan of the old Grantland Pop Culture shows, you can now officially breath a sigh of relief.
The number of Denzealots increased by a big one last week with director Spike Lee joining DWITGAOATP. Lee talked with hosts W. Kamau Bell and Kevin Avery about all things Denzel (and a few things Spike). Though the episode says it’s an hour and a half long, it doesn’t feel like it. Lee is a ball of energy throughout the show, talking about the actor he directed in four movies while mixing in discussions on sports, race and more. Lee also talked about his honorary Oscar, which he recently received in Los Angeles. After this episode of DWITGAOATP, Lee should also be up for an award for best guest podcast guest appearance.
The focus of last week’s Death, Sex & Money was on the middle subject of the show’s title, or rather the lack thereof. Several weeks ago, host Anna Sale asked listeners to tell her why they weren’t having sex. The result was an entire episode dedicated to the listeners stories, from the 34-year-old woman who is still a virgin, to a man involved in a three-way-relationship devoid of sex for the last year and a half, to the married couple who did not consummate their marriage until five years into the marriage. These are the types of stories that you might think people would have difficulty sharing even with those closest to them, yet somehow Sale has a way of asking intimate and probing questions of her guests and getting honest, open answers in return. In Sale’s careful hands, her listeners stories are handled delicately but openly and are given as a testament to anyone who is going through a similar experience in their own lives.
If you start listening to this month’s episode of Love + Radio, released last Monday, just know that you will not be able to stop until it’s over. There, the disclaimer is out of the way. It’s hard to highlight the most incredible part of this episode of Love + Radio, which featured the story of David, a man who was on the verge of a marital collapse when he sustained a serious brain injury. When I say serious brain injury, I mean the kind of thing that when you hear it described (by the victim no less) you instantly reach for your own head in fright. But the injury was only the beginning of the amazing story, the focus of which was what happened to David after the injury and the hooded figure who has visited him several times since. David tells his own story in an almost unnervingly calm manner. By the end, you may question what part of David’s story is real, what is not, and what may be missing, but you will most assuredly be stunned and intrigued by it all.