Monday, November 21, 2011

The Endless Quest for a Good Podcast: the Sequel

So hard to find any good podcasts anymore. Get Mommy a Drink is hosted by two unfunny women; Totally Laime lives up to its name; The Advice Annex (I don't know why I subscribed to a teen advice podcast, it must've been misadvertised) is an angry woman griping about teenagers before she even reads any of their questions; and I had high hopes for the Dead Authors Podcast, given that it's hosted by my favorite comedian, Paul F. Tompkins, as H.G. Wells.

Andy Richter as Emily Dickenson was kind of funny, he's got a quick mind for details and improv. But Jen Kirkman as Dorothy Parker... this is one of those scenarios when you have a genuine grief you feel strongly about, but you don't want to say anything because you have great affection for everyone involved. All I'll say is that I just finished reading The Paris Review's interview with Dorothy Parker, and in this podcast she was sorely misrepresented. For that matter, I read the Review's interview with Rebecca West, Wells' ex-wife, and I think it's fair to say that the Dead Authors Podcast is not strictly bound to historical fact, time travel aside.

On the other hand, I was prejudiced against Earwolf Studios because I listened to a Scott Aukerman podcast of him interviewing another comedian, and it was 40 minutes of poop, pee, and fag jokes. I didn't get what the big deal was, why Nerdist and Tompkins were frothing and giddy about Comedy Bang Bang (a.k.a. Comedy Death Ray), or as I love to call it, Death of Comedy. And yet some awesome titles have come out of it: I'm a tremendous fan of The Apple Sisters and Mike Detective.

And I like Thrilling Adventure Hour, though it can be hit or miss. Sometimes there's an awesome skit that totally bears out, and then sometimes it seems the thrust of the joke is the stupid theme song, done stupidly. I get especially upset because I know these guys are capable of better, they're just screwing around, audience be damned. ASSSSCAT! Podcast could have been really good, but it's one of those home-jobs where no one knows how microphones work, so they plant all the mics in the audience and keep the narrator/comedian pretty far from them, the end result being a minute of quiet murmuring and then explosive laughter once you crank up the volume. Not fun.

And I know Tig Notaro is very popular. Everybody loves Tig: Mark Maron can't get enough of her, Tompkins adores her all to hell. And yet I've listened to shows where she's a guest, and I've listened to her own show, Professor Blastoff (another Earwolf production), and as far as I can tell she's notable among comedians as being the only one who refuses to tell a joke. I'm not saying she's cracking jokes and she's not funny--I'm saying I have never heard her try to crack a joke. I don't get it... and maybe that's the problem. Maybe this is like that rash of soi dissant "non jokes" that Nat'l Lampoon tried to popularize in the late '80s. The concept of a comedian who never tells a joke is pretty funny, but in practice... well, everyone else seems to love her. I have no problem accepting I'm just on the outside of this sample population, like that Jewish expression: "When three of your friends tell you you're drunk and you know you're not drunk, take off your shoes and go to bed."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hail, My First Cold of the Season

Seems it's not officially winter until I've had my first cold of autumn. What triggers it is two things of the following three:
  1. walking around in cold weather without a hat
  2. staying up too late (even one night)
  3. consumption of alcohol
Any two of those will compromise my immune system and either make me receptive to the least virus floating around on the breeze or awaken whatever dormant infection has been waiting its chance to spread its wings and fly. It happens quickly, too: one day after I stayed up too late and drank alcohol, I had a twinge in my left sinus all morning and I knew that this would be my seasonal cold.