November 18, 2012
Comedy podcasts are the new black.
What I mean to say is that comedy podcasts are in style right now, they go with everything, everyone loves them, and there are a huge variety to choose from (to keep the analogy going, you’ll notice that there are varieties of black sweaters… I’ll stop). The point is that I recently discovered comedy podcasts, and now I can’t believe that I lived so long without them.
I do have a favorite, and I want to give it a plug: “You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes.” Pete Holmes is an LA-based standup comedian who originally hails from Lexington, MA (where, coincidentally, I happened to attend elementary school). Pete is a self-described nice guy who loves to chat about life and all its weird intricacies, and his podcast is pretty much just that: each episode features a different comedian with whom Pete talks about all kinds of things. He tries to hit on three weird parts of life: comedy, love/relationships/sex, and religion.
It does get pretty weird sometimes, which is what makes it so fascinating. The real sell is that Pete and his guests are honest about their lives and the difficulties and successes they’ve encountered. Guests don’t shy away from talking about periods of depression, or difficult breakups, or professional failures. They also talk about how they’ve gotten to where they are, and it’s often very inspiring. It’s also, of course, usually pretty funny—Pete is a big riffer, and there’s a lot of riffing.
My favorite episode of the show features Jenny Slate, a comedian who was on SNL during the 2009/2010 season. She famously said the “F word” (you know the one—or should I say it here? Naw, you know what I mean) during the first sketch she was in, and subsequently only lasted a year on the show. She and Pete get into that, but that’s not all they get into. The episode runs 2 hours and 30 minutes, and it’s a really amazing piece of radio. Jenny is honest about her depression and anxiety, about her relationship with her fiance, even about how much pot she smokes. Someone tweeted about the episode “If you don’t listen to this episode when you’re feeling sad, you’re doing happiness wrong”—and I have to agree. It’s such a human conversation, and it feels really special to get to listen in on it.
I do have one complaint about “You Made It Weird,” which is that Pete is a MASSIVE repeater. He was married at age 22 and divorced at 25, and he’s described the whole thing so frequently on his podcast that I almost feel like I lived through it. It can get frustrating to hear the same stories over and over, but it’s also part of what makes the show work; Pete is always interested in earnestly sharing his experiences, and that helps the guests to do the same. It’s a sacrifice we the listeners are forced to make.
If you are remotely interested in comedy, I recommend this podcast. If you’re not into comedy, but you are interested in what it takes to be alive and how other people are dealing with this state of consciousness that we’re all trying to figure out, then I also recommend this podcast. It’s perfect for a long drive, a workout, or a really boring job. Give it a shot.
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