Check out these five Chicago-based comedy podcasts.
By Jason A. Heidemann|
In anticipation of Improvised Star Trek, a new podcast based on last year’s culty comedy show and kicking off with a launch party Saturday 9 at iO, we downloaded recent episodes from other local podcasts to scope out the scene.
Dates with Ever (woodsugars.com) Synopsis This spin-off podcast from the creators of Inside the Barrel (see below) features comic Ever Mainard chatting it up with local comedians from the city’s improv, sketch and stand-up worlds. Portions of recent episodes are webcast. Running time 30–40 minutes Goofball quotient There’s lots of silliness both in Mainard’s banter with cohosts Donny and Eliaz Rodriguez and in “celebrity” pop-ins, as when “Leonardo DiCaprio” as his Gilbert Grape character swings by the studio. Nerd factor Mainard and company offered plenty of hat tips to the brightest faces on the local scene in a recent episode but never went into much depth. Takeaway Mainard’s a funny lady with a voice fit for radio, but the topic of the week, Annoyance show Tim Paul’s Retarded, was a bust. Paul was not present nor did they know much about his show.
Inside the Barrel (woodsugars.com) Synopsis Indie comedy group Wood Sugars hosts this monthly variety show podcast in which brothers Donny and Eliaz Rodriguez and Jeff Phillips along with producer Jeremiah Watkins yuk it up with bands and filmmakers while local comedians join the guys for live sketches. Running time 60 minutes(ish) Goofball quotient Parody commercials, the Question of the Week and witty patter keep the silliness moderately high. Nerd factor On a recent episode, the guys allowed filmmaker Ted Tremper ample time to illuminate his award-winning Break-ups series. Takeaway With all the competing voices, there’s a bit of a “too many chiefs, not enough Indians” thing going on and the commercial segments were hit and miss, but the sound is crisp, the guests are solid, and these gents are totally likable.
Red Bar Radio (redbarradio.com) Synopsis Mike David and local comics (often including James Fritz) alternate between serious and sardonic shit-shooting about comedy and current events. Running time Two hours Goofball quotient The comics liken their show to Opie & Anthony, so don’t be surprised when they veer into lowbrow, politically incorrect territory. Nerd factor David (and occasional host Kyle Lane) also produce the Red Bar Comedy Show(redbarcomedy.com) weekends at Ontourage. They take comedy seriously—a nice touch. Takeaway Two hours is long. Either download for road trips or skip through to the parts in which they dissect comedy.
RyeBread Radio (ryebreadradio.com) Synopsis Akeem Lawanson and the RyeBread crew invite comedians and performers to their Wicker Park studio for discussions of all things comic. Running time 90 minutes Goofball quotient Conversations segue into silly things like pooping and the Decepticons. Nerd factor Comedians help liven the show for sure, but it’s not a podcast that geeks out on the local scene. Takeaway These guys favor oddball over mainstream current events (a welcome touch) and the comedy analysis is solid, but some self-editing would help the RyeBread crew cut through the abundance of inane chatter.
The Visitor’s Locker Room (visitorslockerroom.com) Synopsis Pro sports, Hollywood celebs and other newsmakers get picked apart and picked on by local jokers CJ Sullivan and Sean Flannery. Running time One hour Goofball quotient Part of VLR’s modus operandi is to make fun of the self-seriousness of sports, and the group does a fine job keeping the industry’s self-importance in check. Nerd factor Very, very high although it’s directed at sports, not comedy Takeaway Whether they’re pontificating on draft picks or trashing Charlie Sheen, Flannery and Sullivan are always cracking themselves up, which rubs off on the listener (although there are some audio-quality issues to work out).