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Comedy podcasts

Check out these five Chicago-based comedy podcasts.

Kevin Penczak
Wood Sugars Comedy is, left to right: Eliaz Rodriguez, Donny Kevin Rodriguez, and Jeff Phillips

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).

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