As a podcaster myself, I enjoy checking out the scene and seeing what is out there. While I see myself visiting the Comedy and TV and Film categories the most, I do stray a little when something bites my fancy. As I calculated my list this year, I noticed that I listened to a lot of shows that featured something worth remembering. The following is the first half (26-50) of My Top 50 Podcasts of 2012.
What happens when you get comedy improv legends together in one room and force them to talk about mundane stuff? You get the always hilarious Long Shot Podcast. Hosted by Sean Conroy, he leads a panel of Jamie Flam, Amber Kenny, and the great Eddie "Bitter Buddha" Pepitone as they invite on a guest to just laugh and share stories. As the titles of the episodes suggest: "The Everyone Naked in a Sleeping Bag Episode" or "The Don't Squeeze the Cheese Episode," this is jam packed with comedy. Add in Pepitone's upcoming documentary (The Bitter Buddha), and this is a prime time to get into the show if you haven't already. It will be some of the best free form conversation that you hear on a usually weekly basis.
|27. Comedy Bang Bang|
What a year for Jeff Ulrich and Scott Aukerman's Earwolf Media. First off, they became one of the best podcast networks out there by expanding from comedy into music, improv, racial analysis, and even parenting. All of these shows manage to feature a quality that is distinctly their own and sounds like effort was put into them. Also, Aukerman's Comedy Bang Bang became a decent IFC TV show. However, that doesn't mean that his podcast has up and vanished. If anything, it has gotten more interesting, often providing more absurd guests to come on the show and to do staple games that fall apart immediately. While I consider the show to be very hit and miss, I found myself laughing more than groaning from what I did hear, so chalk that up Aukerman and do it before he becomes a superstar with that TV show.
|28. The Dork Forest|
Majority of shows deal with some form of nerdy talk. Whether it is movies, TV, or video games, the market is overpopulated with guests talking about these subjects. It almost seems fitting that long-lasting the Dork Forest exists. An alternate to these shows, host Jackie Kashian invites on guests to talk about their personal dorkdoms, whether they be old school animation, tap dancing, or even origami. There is no limits to what is discussed, and you might learn a thing or two. Most of all, Kashian is a fun, dorky host who makes the conversations light and easy to intake. All that is missing is you.
|29. It’s That Episode|
The website Splitsider launched a podcast network this year, and while I haven't checked them all out (You Had to Be There is another good one), one that grew on me is It's That Episode. The premise is simple: a guest brings a TV show episode in for discussion. This leads to a free form debate on the episode as well as tangential issues. It could be anything, but it all somehow all dovetails back beautifully into the episode. Craig Rowen is an excellent host and while the episodes make or break for me, they usually are worth a listen. TV shows have ranged from Teen Mom to Buck Rodgers to Ren & Stimpy. There is no word on what next week's episode is just yet, but it will probably be fun.
|30. On the Media|
Okay, my big issue this year was wanting to be informed on politics, but not be swayed by one extremist for the left or right. In fact, I worry that even mentioning this show probably shows me settling on some bias. However, for weekly news that doesn't feel one-sided, I often turn to Brooke Gladstone's show as she interviews guests, shares a magazine of stories, and tells the facts. It may seem cut and dry, but the show presents itself not as a political agenda show, but one that just analyzes the way we perceive media. Something about that just seems brilliant to me.
|31. The Nerdist|
I have always found the Nerdist Industry network to be too rambling. It is essentially why I gave up on weekly subscription for most of the shows. However, I cannot leave off the original the Nerdist because, well, they had an amazing year. For starters, they managed to turn their little podcast into a corporation by teaming with Legendary. In many ways, that is an inspiration for the growth of the podcast network. Also, they just have had an interesting plethora of guests, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt and... Tom Hanks! I would have put this on the list just for that amazing Tom Hanks episode in which we get him as a person, being innocent and happy. I will not listen to every interview, but it feels harder to do so because, well, they're picking up great guests. Also, just kudos to Chris Hardwick on all of his success this year. At very least, he is an inspiration to podcasters everywhere.
|32. Answer Me This|
A half hour jolt of Q+A on a weekly basis from Britain. It may be done all in the name of comedy, but Helen and Olly sure know how to banter back and forth on ridiculous subject matter and tear it apart to the final core. Usually done with use submitted questions, nothing is off topic, and at very least offers chances for the show to tangent into personal stories about getting submissions from Charles Bronson (the guy in jail, not the actor). It is always funny, and its brevity is a nice touch that promises that you'll want more by the time that it is over.
|33. Throwing Shade|
As someone who references Infomania more than the cast of Infomania probably does in 2012, I have followed each comedian's career in the first full year away from Current TV. The most in line with Infomania is probably the Throwing Shade podcast. A weekly discussion of issues involving gays and women, it sees hosts Erin Gibson and Bryan Saffi both just being silly and fun. The show is usually very dirty, but it manages to be informative and entertaining as well. It may seem one sided at times and features too much Saffi singing, but hey, it becomes enduring the further along you go. Most of all, it is probably one of the best ways to learn about gays and women's issues of the modern era nowadays anyways.
|34. You Look Nice Today|
While this podcast took a long time off, it returned this year with monthly installments that saw the crew just sharing stories. It usually didn't spurn from a place of cohesiveness, but it quickly evolves into something often funny and involves a cutaway to a random song clip. What is billed as a show about emotional hygiene is really just a chance for a bunch of guys to share stories about their lives, and it doesn't always work, but with it only being monthly, it's hard to really argue with a 40 minute show. Also, their one contribution to society this year is inserting Razzledazzle balls into random pictures. That alone earns them a spot on this list.
|35. Benson’s Boombox|
Yes, that is former CCMN show Benson's Boombox, which is now a monthly podcast. They have had snippets of conversation with Wil Wheaton and Adam Scott. They have an ongoing skit about time travel. Their guests are usually fascinating, and you get the sense that co-host Chris is starting to get what's going on. Every month, I look forward to hearing the latest episode in hopes that I can hear what the genius behind the Lebowski Remembered Tumblr has to say. It isn't always great, but hey, at least they are nice enough to come on our show. The only problem? Too many poop jokes. This would have ranked higher if they had less poop jokes.
Story telling is an art form that is often overlooked in the podcast medium. True, people share stories, but never ones of considerable length. This is why I like Kevin Allison's Risk, which is probably one of the best out there. Usually based on a theme (sometimes even getting filthy), he invites on guests to share embarrassing stories about their lives. While some are heartbreaking, there is a nice balance of honest humor mixed in by famous comedians and people who submitted stories to workshop. Probably one of the best edited shows that I've heard, I get the sense that Risk should be more respected, as I often find it more entertaining and fulfilling than the more popular the Moth.
|37. Stuff You Should Know|
What do you want to know? This bi-weekly show is created to answer the mysteries of the world in great detail. Often entertaining, this is an easy way to learn facts that you didn't think that you wanted to know. Subjects range from "How Vampires Work" to "How the Electoral College Works." The podcast, as well as the website, is a great place to quickly learn everything you need to know on any subject. It may not make you a genius, but I assure you that it will make you see the world in a very different way. And that's a good thing.
|38. The Champs|
While majority of shows often interview predominantly white performers, the Champs attempts to do something different. They invite on African American performers who are often rather entertaining and have unique stories that you won't hear on any other podcast. Hosted by Neal Brennan and Moshe Kasher, the interviews may take the long route of getting to the juicy stuff, but with DJ Douggpound's excellent choice of sound effects, the ride is well worth it. You'll be laughing at how this show somehow threw itself together. Also, for anyone that is a fan, Shawn and Marlon Wayans was on recently, and they shared stories of their entire career, including Don't Be a Menace... and Scary Movie. That alone is reason enough to give this show a chance. It is very entertaining and you'll never know what you're gonna hear... literally.
|39. How Was Your Week|
Julie Klausner is an interesting person who finds herself dishing on current TV shows like nobody else. She may often come across as too sassy, but her wit and interest in Smash is enough to give this a peek. Also, her guests, ranging from comedians to book authors, she has probably one of the biggest ranges of guests, and manages to treat an interview as a casual conversation that lets everything flow nicely. While some interviews will leave you bored and wanting to fast forward, the show has provided you with plenty of enough great moments to make each episode at least worth taking a look at.
|40. Bar Stool Conversations|
Here is a show that my ex-coworker hosts. Due to unfortunate mishaps, the show hasn't been as prolific as I'd hope, but it is still a great chance to hear Tom and Rocky get together and share drinks. Their discussions usually spawn from getting drunk and talking about the preparation of food at great length. Plenty of comedy is mixed in and it is always infectious. They are planning to get back into the studio soon to record more, but until then, check out their brief catalog. Almost every episode features something great.
|41. Nocturnal Emotions|
Fun fact: Quick search of Google/iTunes/you name it, you'll find that Ellen Page has been on only ONE podcast in 2012: Nocturnal Emotions. Hosted by her Whip It co-star Har Mar Superstar, the show is one of Earwolf's initial spin-offs into the music field. Har Mar may be a really funny guy, but this show is more about the music and what impact it has on its guest. I have listened to a few episodes, and with guests like Flea and Wyatt Cenac, I can tell that this is going to be one with legs. Very enjoyable, and with a game that changes the song meanings, there is plenty to get out of an average episode. While none are as great as the Page episode, it probably is just because, well, she comes clean about her Chelsea Lately appearance. Now there is something awkward right there.
|42. My Brother, My Brother and Me|
The McElroy brothers skewer the internet for random Yahoo Questions that make no sense and try to treat them seriously. As a result, it just adds to absurd humor and eventually dissects into bickering among each other. There's plenty of inside jokes and made up advertisements that result in hilarity. There is no word on what to expect from an average episode, but it usually makes you pity humanity when they ask stupid questions. However, this is only after about an hour of pure fun.
|43. Yo, Is This Racist?|
Earwolf has been unsuccessful with daily podcasts. The Affirmation Nation podcast fizzled out after a few months. However, with Yo, Is This Racist?, they may have found a winner. Host Andrew Ti invites on a guest every week to discuss if particular things are racist. This ranges from baseball to language, to Johnny Depp's Tonto in the Lone Ranger trailer. Nothing is too taboo to dissect on this show. It is entertaining and while at times a little long, it is only 15 minutes, and a good portion is dealt making you understand the confines of what constitutes racism by trying to make you more aware. Sounds like a great way to learn.
|44. The Todd Glass Show|
One of the best WTF with Marc Maron episodes of the year was when Todd Glass came out as a gay man. That only boosted his awareness on the podcast, but I felt also let him become a better host. I have always complained that he is too tangential and unfocused. However, if you venture in deep enough, you will find the monotony has a synchronicity and the bad music choices all serve a purpose. Do the episodes need to be an excess of two hours? No. That is why I can't stand listening to it on a weekly basis. However, pop one in at random, and it usually results in the greatest, oddest parody of drive time DJing imaginable. By coming out as gay, I felt that gave him room to be more embracing of the bizarre elements that make the show work. I guarantee you that the first episode you hear will not be great, but a few later, and you'll get why it is an occasional delight.
|45. Weird Adults|
With Feral Audio joining the mix, I must admit that one of the most bizarre guilty pleasures is Weird Adults with Little Esther. She has suffered a two part caffeine crash that is more awkward than tragic and her interviewing skills are not the most engaging. However, as a person who is in fact deserving of the "weird" in the title, she does a great job of making everyone seem almost accepted as they get into weirder and weirder stories. It is also great when you get high energy guests competing with her, the most notable being Max Landis, who defends his douchiness in such an entertaining way. This show may not be high spectacle, but if you ever want to know how endearing weirdness can be, check it out.
|46. The JV Club|
In an interesting twist, Janet Varney has made a podcast chronicling a specific demographic: women in high school and their younger years. Starting with Christina Hendricks, she has interviewed a lot of female stars who have shared the awkwardness of being a teenager. In many ways, this almost seems like another embracing podcast that turns those cherished years into endearing stories. With great guests like Allison Brie, Erin Gibson, and Tig Notaro, she has made one of the best examples of nostalgic podcasting. While some interviews are hit and miss, the ones that do click serve as only a reminder that the innocence of youth is a fickle thing that you'll regret losing. Also, you'll want to hug someone after it.
|47. Steven Brody Stevens Festival of Friendship|
This bottom portion is all about the borderline shows. Ones that are good, but could possibly be greater. The one that comes closest to mind is this. Besides having one of the greatest theme songs on a podcast ever, he is also quickly becoming one of my favorites. Again, he suffers from very long podcasts, which causes me to not check out every episode, but the few that I do start with a ventilation that I seriously believe rivals Marc Maron's. He has clarity and focus, honesty and wit. He can be vulnerable, and all on the quest for positive energy. Even if I miss the interviews, I will check out his often 30+ minute opening just to hear him talk. He's an inspiration, though not my favorite interviewer, though his episode with James Adomian is excellent.
If this list had been released before the first five episodes had been released, this would have been Top 10 EASILY. The first handful of episodes in which Dan Harmon rambles about his life with Jeff Davis is some of the most inspired rambling that I've ever heard. There almost seemed to be an inspired, quotable aspect to it. I could remember the episodes with clarity. Then, they started finding a formula that just tanked the show for me. They dealt with awkward racism, Dungeons and Dragons, and quoting what made the first few episodes great. It is tragic, because after a few episodes of that, I lost my love for the show and it quickly fell off my radar. I plan to revisit it again to see if it will pick up, but for now, it is the show that started off great, but became too self aware.
|49. The Chong and Chong Show|
Legendary comedian Tommy Chong has a podcast. Now there is something that is both odd and kind of awesome. Being a fan of Up in Smoke and the albums, I was curious to give this a peek. Originally called the Potcast, Chong got on the microphone, shared his personal thoughts on marijuana and played some music. This is how the show started, and it wasn't a substantial basis, especially sicne A/K/A Chong already made a strong case for everything that he said. However, bring in his son Rome as a cohost and you get a slightly more interesting show in which there is still talk about drugs, but also talk about Chong visiting the White House and why Katt Williams is a tragic case. It may be a little too drug ridden for my weekly interest, but give it time, and I think that Tommy Chong may make a decent podcast out of this.
Controversial slot, though one I feel like I need to include. I have long derailed my disinterest in Kevin Smith. I even bought and gave away in a matter of a month my copy of his book "Tough Shit." Truthfully, I guess I am still chasing the dream of who he was years ago. Maybe I am the one who has changed too rapidly. Still, of all the shows that he does, I keep coming back to this one. I mean, Scott Mosier is an interesting co-host and makes the few that I heard worthwhile. I dislike stoner Kevin, but when he is passionate, like an extensive review of The Dark Knight Rises, he is fascinating. As I looked at my algorithm for what could make this list, I noticed that somehow I listened to enough episodes with positive thoughts to have it make the list. I guess that this will be my forever struggle, love/hate thing that makes no sense to everyone else, but for the time being, SModcast does bring enough annual joy to make it a worthwhile entry.
Check out 1-15 here.
Also check out more of my work at http://nerdseyeviewpodcast.blogspot.com/ where I have a podcast called Nerd's Eye View.
Check out 1-15 here.
Also check out more of my work at http://nerdseyeviewpodcast.blogspot.com/ where I have a podcast called Nerd's Eye View.