Spring is underway, and podcasts are in full bloom, with shiny new shows from Paul F. Tompkins, Rich Sommer and so many others. Below, I round up a few highlights from the last week or so.
CHILDHOOD HUMILIATION CAN SPARK GREAT IMPROV.
Paul F. Tompkins has logged more podcast hours than we can count, and they continue to climb with his new Earwolf show that blends interviews and long-form improv. In the latest episode, actress Melanie Lynskey tells funny and embarrassing tales of growing up in New Zealand. After her chat, a team of comedians concocts a silly story based on real-life details she shared. (Trust me, you just have to hear the thing.)
THERE’S A PUNK ROCK-RICHARD PRYOR CONNECTION.
I have a feeling host Aaron Roden and I are around the same age, because some of his guests seem pulled from my own “Celebrities I’d Love to Interview” list. Case in point: The latest ep features a chat with Rodney Anonymous of the Dead Milkmen, a punk band that made an indelible impression on my teen self. While listening, I jotted down tons of bands, movies, and other influences Rodney mentioned at lightning speed, from Youth Code to the Richard Pryor film Wild in the Streets to the word “electro-scuzz.”
WILL FERRELL AGREES CASA DE MI PADRE WAS A STRANGE MOMENT IN HIS CAREER.
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While I listened to the free podcast version of Sam Jones’ interview with Will Ferrell, I’ll suggest you consider paying $1.49 for the video version. (Since Jones is an award-winning photographer, it comes as no surprise that the video looks fantastic.) During their lengthy, laid-back chat, Ferrell reveals what it was like to audition for Saturday Night Live, how he made that Landlord video, and why he loved making Casa de mi Padre, even though the Spanish-language comedy failed to find an audience.
THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH SINGING KARAOKE ALONE IN YOUR CAR.
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Guest Ken Marino is an actor, comedian, writer, director … and, as he discusses on Who Charted?, a karaoke fanatic. Not only does Marino have a karaoke room in his house, he does karaoke through his phone, and often “practices” while he drives. (To prove his point, he belts out a few bars of a Joe Cocker song. He has some mighty pipes.)
STEPHEN TOBOLOWSKY WROTE ONE OF HIS SCENES IN GROUNDHOG DAY.
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I listened to every second of this episode, where guest Stephen Tobolowsky chats about what it was like to play Ned Ryerson in the 1993 comedy classic Groundhog Day. He says director Harold Ramis expanded Ned’s role during the shoot, and Tobolowsky even penned one of his scenes. Also interesting: Ramis shot in virtually every weather condition, in an effort to make it look like Phil (Bill Murray) really was reliving the exact same day.
MARIA BELLO AND MARIO BATALI GO WAY BACK.
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I love Jeffery Self’s podcast more with every episode. In the latest one, he chats with actress and Whatever … Love Is Love author Maria Bello about love, forgiveness, vacations, orange peels, and other hot topics. (As for the Batali connection, Bello met the chef in the early ‘90s when she was a bartender in the West Village. They’ve been friends ever since.)
THERE ARE WAY TOO MANY BOARD GAMES ABOUT POULTRY.
I don’t want to let another week go by without mentioning actor Rich Sommer’s new show, which has nothing to do with playing Harry Crane on Mad Men. Instead, Cardboard! lets Sommer share one of his biggest passions: board games. In each ep, he welcomes fun guests (Ty Burrell, Nate Corddry), shares listener feedback, and suggests tons of games to enhance our lives. (His “Eggs Benedict Day” ep included several chicken-themed titles.) Personally, I love when Sommer lets his 7-year-old daughter grab the mic and talk about her favorite games. She’s as much of an expert as he is.