Podcasts You Should Be Listening To #2

Tanis (Pacific Northwest Stories, Hosted by Nic Silver)

tanisWhile I really don’t enjoy found footage horror films, when the genre is applied to literature or, in this case, audio drama, it works much better in my opinion. The premise of Tanis is that journalist Nic Silver is attempting to uncover what Tanis, a word mentioned in a myriad of sources, is. Is it a person, a place? Why are famous occultists obsessed with it? How does it connect to other urban legends and modern horrors? If you are a fan of slow burning, very creepy, conspiracy theory stories Tanis will provide you with many hours of entertainment. Currently, Season 1 (12 episodes) is available with Season 2 on its seventh of 12 total episodes.

 

Filmspotting (WBEZ Chicago, Hosted by Adam Kempenaar & Adam Larsen)

filmspottingThis was the first movie podcast I ever listened to starting way back in 2005. At the time it was Adam and Sam Van Hallgren hosting, but the latter has moved on to a producing role. No matter the hosts, the film has always maintained a high level of discussion about film. Kempenaar is an instructor at the University of Chicago and Larsen spent over a decade reviewing films for the Chicago Sun-Times. Both men have a very deep knowledge of film and work to spotlight picture beyond what has currently opened at the cineplex. This podcast has probably been the biggest inspiration to my love of film introducing me to filmmakers like Wim Wenders, John Cassavetes, and Robert Altman. Even if you have an extensive film knowledge you will learn something from listening to this series.

 

How Did This Get Made? (Earwolf, Hosted by Paul Scheer, June Diane-Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas)

how did this get madeInspired by Mystery Science Theater 3000 and a plethora of books detailing the “worst films ever made” these three comedians and actors set out to make a series where they explored travesties of cinema in depth. Episode One spotlighted Burlesque; Christina Aguilera and Cher’s gaudy passion project. From there they have looked at films like The Last Airbender, Masters of the Universe, and Zardoz. Some particular highlights have been A View to a Kill, Glitter, and the god awful sequel to Saturday Night Fever, Staying Alive. A very high energy podcast that has very charismatic and witty hosts that make watching bad films a pleasure.

 

With Special Guest, Lauren Lapkus (Earwolf, Hosted by…?)

lauren lapkusLauren Lapkus had become a staple on Comedy Bang Bang thanks to her variety of characters. When she decided to start her own podcast instead of hosting she opted to make the host rotating and to play a different character on each episode. This lets the guest come up with the concept of the show, the topic of conversation and even the basics of Lapkus’ own character. In fact, Lapkus doesn’t know any of this information until they start recording the episode and loves being made to improvise it all on the spot. A nice surprising podcast that never fails to present something unique and funny.

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Podcasts You Should Be Listening To #1

I have been a huge fan of podcasts since I discovered them back in 2005. They are a great thing to have if you have a long commute and, if you are super lucky, you have job that let’s you put in earbuds and forget things around you. Here are some that I love to listen to.

 

Limetown (Two-Up Productions, Host: Annie Sage Whitehurst as Lia Haddock) http://www.limetownstories.com/

Limetown-logo-SQ-LargeIn the vein of Serial and The Black Tapes, comes this intriguing audio drama. Lia Haddock is an American Public Radio journalist who has a personal connection to an incident that occurred decades ago at neuroscience research facility in Tennessee. Three hundred people vanished without a trace and the government has worked to cover up the truth. As Lia digs deeper, she uncovers a vast horrific conspiracy. A beautiful artifact that immerses the listener in this dark parallel world. Only six episodes with a companion prequel novel in the works.

 

 

Spontaneanation  (Earwolf, Host: Paul F. Tompkins) http://www.earwolf.com/show/spontaneanation-with-paul-f-tompkins/

spontPaul F. Tompkins (Mr. Show, Best Week Ever) hosts this series that is half-interview show, half-improv show. Each episode begins with Tompkins interviewing a celebrity guest. In the second half, the guest offers up a location and Tompkins and his improvisers create a longform improv based on both the suggestion and tidbits from the guest’s interview. These are some amazing improvisers and they produce hilarious comedy.

 

Episode #3 (http://www.earwolf.com/episode/a-secret-society/) – Jason Ritter talks about his Nirvana obsession and insecurity with Choose Your Own Adventure Books

Episode #10 (http://www.earwolf.com/episode/the-student-lounge-at-a-performing-arts-high-school/) – Weeds’ Justin Kirk talks about acting school and the improvisers play out the cutthroat shenaningans behind the scenes of a student play.

Episode #52 (http://www.earwolf.com/episode/the-last-blockbuster-video-store/) – Ghostbusters screenwriter Katie Dippold talks about the reaction to the film’s trailer and we meet a sister-wife cult out to return tapes to the Last Blockbuster Video before their daddy-master gets upset.

 

Hollywood Handbook (Earwolf, Hosts: Hayes Davenport, Sean Clements) – http://www.earwolf.com/show/hollywood-handbook/

HollywoodHandbook_1600x1600_Cover1-300x300Hayes Davenport and Sean Clements aren’t industry douchebags, they just play them on a podcast. Each episode of Hollywood Handbook begins with the duo in media res humblebragging through a story that involves a mid-tier celebrity (think Elliot Gould or Anne Heche). What’s most cringey/captivating about Handbook is how real these characters feel. I’ve never worked in the entertainment industry, but even I can feel the genuine nature of the smarm coming off these characters. The target of their passive aggressive sneers is poor Engineer Cody. A classic duo of episodes are the dueling interviews with comedian Chris Gethard (whose podcast is featured below). Hayes, Sean, and a few friends also made an amazing appearance on Earwolf’s flagship Comedy Bang Bang podcast.

Episode #118 – Chris Gethard, Our Close Friend – http://www.earwolf.com/episode/chris-gethard-our-close-friend/

Episode #138 – Chris Gethard, Sean’s Close Friend – http://www.earwolf.com/episode/chris-gethard-seans-close-friend/

Comedy Bang Bang, Episode #351 (http://www.earwolf.com/episode/cbb-the-movie/) – The Hollywood Handbook crew does a readthrough of their Comedy Bang Bang movie script.

 

Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People (Earwolf, Host: Chris Gethard) http://www.earwolf.com/show/beautiful-anonymous/

Chris Gethard sits in a recording studio and receives an anonymous phone call. He cannotEAR_BeautifulAnonymous_Cover_1600x1600_Final-2-300x300 hang up, the caller can at any time. After one hour the call will automatically end. From this simple premise comes some of the most beautiful and funny human interactions you’ll be witness to. Callers often feel awkward at first, but there is inevitably some moment where they make a revelation about themselves. From there you can’t help but be pulled into the story.

 

Episode #10 (http://www.earwolf.com/episode/4-kids-0-sex/) – 4 Kids, 0 Sex – A male caller got married young and four kids later he and his wife are on the verge of a separation.

Episode #13 (http://www.earwolf.com/episode/married-to-a-monster/) – Married to a Monster –  A female caller talks about learning she was married to a child molester, now imprisoned, and how she deals with letting their son know what is happening.

Episode #15 (http://www.earwolf.com/episode/the-hardest-part-is-that-you-love-me/) – The Hardest Part is That You Love Me – a young woman in the midst of a quarter life crisis talks about her vagabond boyfriend and the tug and pull of being young and dumb with growing up and being responsible.

Podcast Recommendations: Comedy and Everything Else

Comedy and Everything Else

I am a big podcast nerd, particularly comedy podcasts. I love hearing my favorite comedians on a weekly/monthly basis instead of waiting for their next album, which might not ever come. I came across Comedy and Everything Else by accident while browsing through the podcasts on iTunes. What caught my eye was that it featured one of my favorite comedians, Todd Glass. The other two names attached (Jimmy Dore and Stefane Zamarano) were completely new to me at the time. What I discovered was a podcast that was both funny, but also explored the nuances of comedy and how comedians view their craft. The episodes are long, many topping over two hours, and I love it. The conversations these people are having are the kind I want to listen to for hours and hours more. The earlier episodes are a little rough in terms of sound quality, but they improve quickly.

The focal point of CEE is Jimmy Dore. Dore is a Chicago transplant to L.A. and comes from your typical large Irish-Catholic family. He’s worked with Doug Benson and Arj Barker’s Marijuna-logues and a highly rated Comedy Central special, Citizen Jimmy, in 2008. Dore’s focus in comedy is on the political, though he works to keep from becoming didactic and aims for a tone of satire in his work. His paramour is fellow comedienne and improvisationalist, Stefane (pronounced Steh-fuh-nay) Zamarano. The duo collaborate on the regular feature “Tuesdays With Moron”, wherein Jimmy has a conversation with himself as the ultra-conservative, Fox News uber-fan Moron. Stef plays Moron’s constantly nagging in the background wife, Terese. Sadly, Todd Glass left in the fall of 2009 after a falling out with Dore. The details of the bad blood has not been publicly released but the absence of Todd was definitely felt while the show worked to redefine and regroup. Glass recently returned to the show as a guest for the 100th episode and, since he suffered a heart attack a few months ago, has reunited with Dore and Zamarano and the conflict seems to have passed.

On the most recent episode, Dore has tackled a controversy in the comedy community surrounding a “Comedy Boot Camp” run by comedians Kyle Cease and Louie Anderson. The program came under fire after Doug Stanhope posted a strong missive about it on his blog, calling up notorious comedy class shills from the past. Dore’s three hour interview with Cease is very interesting and allows the comedian to explain what his program is. Cease doesn’t come off in a great light though, and at time sounds awfully defensive towards hypothetical criticisms Dore throws at him. Dore is also very upfront about his feelings towards comedy classes, particularly ones that cost upwards of $3000 for a week of workshops. There’s some interesting talk about when a comedian is ready to sell himself to the television/film industry and about how a comedian pays their dues and learns their craft. If you are a comedy geek like myself, and appreciate comedy as an art and craft, then I think you will enjoy the topics covered and guests who pop up on CEE.