Comedy shows in LA: 10 don't-miss live podcasts
Some of the best comedy shows in LA are found at live tapings of these comedians' podcasts, where improv is given a whole new meaning.
Photo courtesy Liezl Estipona
Fortunately for Angelenos, it's not hard to find a favorite stand-up act or improv troupe performing at a local comedy club. But live tapings of podcasts provide a whole new way to catch local comedians. Free from the format of traditional comedy shows, these funnymen and women and their equally witty guests get to riff on hot topics of the day, delve into absurdist philosophy and shock and awe with extemporaneous (and sometimes x-rated) tales.
This revealing podcast, created by Kevin Allison of The State, features people telling true stories they never thought they'd share in public. The tales run the gamut from sacred to profane, hilarious to horrific. Allison likens the podcast to This American Life or The Moth, but says what separates Risk! is that many of these stories are controversial, embarrassing or full of raw emotion—sometimes people are sharing things for the very first time. "Nothing is inappropriate, until maybe something is," says Allison. "It's downright life-affirming to hear such candor." The show is hosted by Pete Holmes and Kumail Nanjiani (not Allison himself), and past guests have included Kevin Nealon, Janeane Garofalo and Adam McKay.
Live tapings: Fourth Thursday of every month at NerdMelt, 9pm. $10.
Since 2009, stand-up comedian Greg Fitzsimmons has hosted this rollicking podcast, described by Fitzsimmons himself as "a show in which an Irish rage-aholic quits drinking and drags you behind the scenes of his family life and comedy career." The show's topics tend to range from religion to politics and current events, and past guests have included Norm MacDonald, Zach Galifinakis and Sarah Silverman. Discussions move effortlessly from raw comedy into philosophy, and often end with the guest feeling safe and open enough to reveal intimate (and sometimes embarassing) facts about themselves. If you want to witness such candidness for yourself, you'll have to find out where Fitzsimmons is hosting his next show; his venues range from spots like UCB Theatre and NerdMelt Theater to whatever hotel he happens to be staying in.
Live tapings: Check Fitzsimmon's website for updates.
Walking the Room
Launched in 2010, this absurd podcast features comedians Dave Anthony and Greg Behrendt, who discuss the fact that their careers haven't gone as planned and humorously lament their lack of success. (Ironically, this podcast is pretty darn successful.) Lovingly termed a "podcuddle" (because Dave embraces Greg, who is often scared, and Greg embraces the audience), the show is mostly nonsensical, belligerent hilarity. To get a sense of what we mean, check out the show's extensive glossary, where you'll find definitions for such terms as "drippers," a coffee bar/strip club hybrid, "hot chocolate backpack," something you do not want in prison, and "sad lapse," when you get drunk on gin & guava juice at the beach and wind up crying in your ex-girlfriend's mother's arms.
Doug Loves Movies
Comedian Doug Benson hosts this film afficionado's dream podcast, in which he and guests—including comedians, actors, writers and directors—geek out about movies new and old. Tune in to hear rousing bits like "the Leonard Maltin game," which is similar to Name That Tune except instead of using songs, Doug reads descriptions from the Leonard Maltin movie guide, a definitive text by America's famously benign film critic. The show, which has been on for almost five years, is hosted regularly at UCB; Doug suggests sneaking a beer in to enjoy while you watch.
Live tapings: Every Tuesday at UCB, 7pm. Free.
This sketch comedy podcast is presented by improvisors Matt Gourley, Jeremy Carter, Mark McConville and Jeff Crocker, and comprises comedy routines "loosely framed in a pseudo-psychological series of Case Studies presented by the Superego Clinic for Analytical Psience." Which basically means that these guys do whatever the hell they want onstage—the whole show is improvised, and includes sound effects and music cues to set the mood, whatever that mood happens to be. Guests such as Patton Oswalt, Rob Delaney and Paul F. Tompkins occasionally join the mix for a full-on comedy onslaught.
Live tapings: Once a month at UCB, times vary. $10.
Last Week on Earth
Comedian and satirist Ben Gleib has been dominating the podcast world for more than a year, covering current events, pop culture, tech, science, politics and everything else that happens in a week—all in about an hour, every Wednesday evening. It's a hilarious recap, with the added bonus of huge guest stars such as Bryan Cranston, Dane Cook and Bob Odenkirk. Gleib has only done two live shows, but plans to host live tapings every two months beginning sometime this year.
Kevin Smith (Clerks) is the king of live podcasting. He has his very own network, Smodcast, whose shows are taped live across LA, but to see the man himself you'll have to attend a Hollywood Babble-On taping. Co-hosted by Ralph Garman, the show features the two comedians' hilarious and often biting opinions on the past week's worth of celebrity and entertainment news. There are a lot of snarky celeb news outlets to choose from, but Silent Bob tops them all.
Live tapings: Almost every Saturday at the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club, times vary. $20.
The Adam Carolla Show
Adam Carolla has one of the most popular podcasts on the iTunes charts. Along with sidekicks Alison Rosen and Bald Bryan, he interviews celebrity guests and pokes fun at current events. The show does have a bit of a morning radio feel, but of course it's uncensored Carolla, who basically just complains a lot—and damn it if he isn't genuinely funny (and more than a little inappropriate). He tours his podcast not only in LA (often at Hollywood Improv) but across the entire country.
Live tapings: Keep an eye on Carolla's website for upcoming local dates.
Nobody Likes Onions
For over eight years, comedian Patrick Melton has been recording this podcast a whopping three times per week. He lives alone, but surrounds himself with guests such as Jamie Kennedy, Jim Norton and Bob Saget. Part of the charm of this show is the well-stocked bar Melton keeps; sometimes the drinks—and words—really flow. The show is full of sarcastic wit and comments on pop culture, current events and the lives of the guests on the show—unless it spirals out of control, in which case, who knows what you'll be listening to. It's held live once every three months at places like M Bar and Hollywood Improv.
Live tapings: Check Melton's website for dates and locations. $10.
Hosted by husband and wife comedy duo Ralphie May and Lahna Turner, this show is in its first year and gearing up to host live tapings at Hollywood Improv starting mid-2013. The podcast is a mix of pre-recorded clips that the hosts riff on, and interviews with actors and comedians—as well as some wild cards, including a Juggalo or two. Tune in for segments like the Redneck Report, during which a "genuine redneck" calls into the show to give his take on world events. There's also Cooking with Porn Stars: Every month a different famous porn star comes to May and Turner's home and cooks them a meal from their childhood. (Sorry folks, these particular sessions aren't open to the public.)
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Main photo not by Sam Webb, by Liezl Estipona: http://www.flickr.com/photos/liezlwashere/6357436559/
Hey, the internet has alerted me you're using my photograph. I don't know who Sam Webb is, but I'm the one who took the photograph of Doug Benson you're using up there.
"My Brother, My Brother and Me", "Judge John Hodgman", "The Pod F Tompkast", "The Thrilling Adventure Hour". All unmissable. UNMISSABLE.