Apr 21, 2015

Podcast Portal: Womp It Up!

Welcome to Podcast Portal: a spontaneous column that will highlight podcasts of all genres that are lesser known or new shows that are worth giving a listen. With the medium continuing to grow, it is hard to acknowledge all of them. However, I am going to try and find as many noteworthy titles as possible to share and hopefully expand your mind to the greatest growing medium out there. If you have any podcast that you feel is worth adding to the Podcast Portal, please make sure to inform me whether through the comments or through an e-mail (information in sidebar). 

SHOW: Womp It Up
HOSTS: Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham
NETWORK: Earwolf
EPISODE BEING DISCUSSED: "Spotlight On: Dr. Lionel Drioche"

Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the phase in podcasting where show have legitimate spin-offs now. I am not talking about where the host breaks off from another show to start their own. I am talking about fictional characters branching off and doing their own thing. In this case, Comedy Bang! Bang! mainstay Melissa Wompler (Jessica St. Clair) has gotten her own show in which she talks with her teacher Charlotte Listler (Lennon Parham) about school related activities. For those that are unfamiliar with these two, as the show is immediately built on inside jokes, they have a bratty chemistry that results in a lot of irreverent humor and constant bickering. Along with other fictional characters, it serves more as a school assignment deteriorating on record than anything resembling immediate professionalism. 
The one catch is that Clair and Parham are longtime friends who have made two cult shows together (Best Friends Forever, Playing House) that reflect the female bonding experience in ways that Broad City or Girls doesn't accurately do. These two characters have been popping up on the aforementioned Comedy Bang! Bang! for years and have been considered the best characters on the show thanks to their awkward sex humor with that show's host Scott Aukerman. It is tricky to describe what makes these characters initially interesting because they have the same charm that With Special Guest Laura Lapkus does. It isn't about telling jokes, but making situations really strained and unintelligible. In fact, I am not sure that newbies are likely to immediately "get" Womp It Up because of how assured it already feels in self-mythology.
For those that have been longtime fans, it is more of the same and that isn't a bad thing. Listler and Wompler are in top form as they bicker at each other and derail the conversations at every turn. With the appearance of guests Jason Mantzoukas and Seth Morris, the show already feels lived in and despite the jokes not always landing, it does come across as the student project podcast that it is setting out to be. There's moments where exterior moments threaten to shut down the production, specifically of other staff members. There's a few news segments thrown in that are amusing, but this feels like an oddly investing show where the more that you understand, the more likely their insignificant relationship jokes are to strike you as funny.
Which is where I come clean. I like Womp It Up in moderation. The characters can be really enjoyable at times and even capture something exciting about the podcast medium. However, the show's constant interest in being a little anarchic doesn't hold up from guest to guest. I cannot recommend that it becomes more structured because that would take away from its charm. However, it doesn't help the more meandering moments that sometimes rely on long gaps between jokes. Also, the general atmosphere of Wompler and her interest in butts can be a little much. This isn't a first episode thing necessarily as an ongoing problem that I have had with her character, which has worked predominantly off of Aukerman because of their jarringly different egos. I don't get the same feeling with just Listler.
With that said, I am having trouble really recommending this episode because if you liked Melissa Wompler on Comedy Bang! Bang!, it is likely that you'll love her here. However, I feel like there's something a little off and new audiences may have trouble immediately understanding what is going on. It is entertaining and I cannot fault it for anything in particular. I feel like it will be totally up to your preexisting relationship to the characters on this one. I will likely pop in from time to time, but I think that after a few episodes, presumably weekly, that this will lose its flavor and become a little too familiar.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5
WORTH A SECOND GO?: If you like the characters from Comedy Bang! Bang!, you should likely give it a shot. However, I immediately fear that this isn't going to have a lasting appeal.

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