the contextual life

thoughts without borders

On the Shelf: Three Podcasts You Should Know, Comedic Memoirs, and Lots o’ Interviews

with 3 comments

Marc Maron has been a standup comic for half his life. He’s performed on stage at many notable clubs but it’s in his Los Angeles garage that he’s truly found his voice. In 2009 Marc began his WTF podcast and since then has broadcast two interviews a week. More than a talk show, WTF is a living, breathing cultural history of the comedic industry through the stories of those who’ve made their careers from it.

For those unfamiliar with the inner workings of the comedy circuit, it’s forgivable to think these performers are cheery all the time. As these in-depth, often personal, interviews show, all is not rosy. In fact, comedians might just be the most tortured people on earth.The Slate Culture Gabfest has endorsed WTF a few times and when Dana Stevens suggested that new listeners skip the first 10 or 20 minutes, the time allotted to Marc’s notorious monologue, the two got into a Twitter fight. Out of character, The Culture Gabfest invited Marc on their show and it was incredible. You can listen to his segment here. Marc comes in around the 25 minute mark. I highly recommend Marc’s keynote speech at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal.

The Nerdist, hosted by Chris Hardwick, a man who might be familiar to Generation Xers as the host of MTV’s Singled Out, a dating show that ran in the mid-90s, is another source of great interviews with entertainment industry people–but much lighter in tone. Chris has serious nerd-cred. He’s a contributing writer for WIRED magazine, hosts Web Soup, a show on the G4 network that comments on viral videos, and hosted the Interactive Award show at this year’s SXSW festival. The A.V. Club named The Nerdist the best podcast of 2010. Now if that doesn’t sell you, I’m not sure what will. Oh and, Chris has a book coming out in November, The Nerdist Way.

The Sound of Young America might air on proper radio through Public Radio International but host Jesse Thorn has a podcaster’s sensibility. Starting out on college radio, Thorn brings with him an unshakable indie feel. His weekly half hour show features some of the greatest known and lesser-known people in the entertainment industry. From musicians, to filmmakers, to authors, and comedians, Jesse is one of the best prepared and most knowledgeable hosts to-date.

What are your favorite podcasts?

What’s on the Shelf? Books by Funny People Edition

Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy’s Journey to Becoming a Big Kid by Simon Pegg
Simon is best known as the writer and star of zombie-parody film Shaun of the Dead but his British TV sitcom from the late 90s, Spaced, is really cute and worth adding to the Netflix queue. In all his work, Simon draws from his own sci-fi and comic book fandom to create endearing comedies that any nerd will love. Word on the street is, he’s a really nice guy in person.Here’s an interview with Simon on The Sound of Young America and one from The Nerdist. If you still haven’t had enough of this adorable nerd-boy, here’s an interview with WIREDmagazine.

Mr. Funny Pants by Michael Showalter
For those of us who grew up in the 90s, Michael Showalter is probably best known as “Doug,” the angsty teen with the cool dad from the MTV sketch comedy show The State. He recently came out with a memoir. Here he is on WTF for the release of the book, and here he is with his sketch buddy, Michael Ian Black, on The Sound of Young Americain 2009.

What’s Not to Love?: The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer by Jonathan Ames
While Jonathan Ames has done a ton of stuff since his tell-all essay collections, they are still what I love most about him. His other collection of essays, My Less Than Secret Life, is equally amusing. Ames changed the way I wrote—sometimes to my own detriment. Luckily, this was before the internet really took off and the only proof from those years are photocopied zines. His bare-all stories about his subversive lifestyle are engrossing, hilarious, and horrifying—who wouldn’t want to follow in his footsteps? If you want to know what it was like to be a struggling writer living on the Lower East Side before the NYU students moved in, check out Ames’ early work.Listen to Jonathan on WTF and then listen to him again on The Sound of Young America where he tells a funny story about the premier of his HBO sitcom, Bored to Death.

Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People by Amy Sedaris
Simple Times is Amy’s follow up to her first bestselling craft book, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. Her love of crafting is genuine but her brilliance for over-the-top earnestness shines through; that is to say, she pulls of sincere-snark very well. Before Stephen Colbert was a household name, him and Amy were co-comics, co-writing the underground comedic success Strangers with Candy. Listen to Amyon The Sound of Young America’s live show in New York.

I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee
Samantha is a cast member on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Her book of personal essays, which came out in paperback earlier this year, featured quotes from her parents on the hardcover edition. Here’s a bit from the publisher:

Critics have called her “sweet, adorable, and vicious.” But there is so much more to be said about Samantha Bee. For one, she’s Canadian. Whatever that means. And now, she opens up for the very first time about her checkered Canadian past. With charming candor, she admits to her Lennie from Of Mice and Men–style love of baby animals, her teenage crime spree as one-half of a car-thieving couple (Bonnie and Clyde in Bermuda shorts and braces), and the fact that strangers seem compelled to show her their genitals. She also details her intriguing career history, which includes stints working in a frame store, at a penis clinic, and as a Japanese anime character in a touring children’s show.

You can listen to Samantha on The Sound of Young America

The Ask by Sam Lipsyte
I was surprised to hear that Marc Maron and Sam Lipsyte are friends. It was when I saw Sam in person, interviewing fellow writer Geoff Dyer, that I realized how funny was funny but for some reason, I never guessed he would run around with comics. It turns out Marc and Sam go way back. Marc endorsed Sam’s books on the Slate Culture Gabfest and recently had him on one of his live shows. You can listen to it here. Sam’s latest book, one that’s been getting a ton of praise, is The Ask, so, I’ll suggest that one.

Neil Gaiman on The Nerdist
I’ve pushed Neil’s book enough and god knows he doesn’t need my help but his interview on The Nerdist was incredible and over an hour long. Not nearly enough time for my liking but it will do.

What’s on your shelf this week?

Written by Gabrielle

August 4, 2011 at 8:54 am

3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Love Chris Hardwick and Simon Pegg…will have to check out the rest!!


    August 5, 2011 at 2:08 pm

  2. Amy Sedaris is pretty damn awesome too…


    August 5, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    • she was really great with marc maron at the live show the other week . . . i was there 🙂 he should have it posted soon. simon pegg is adorable!


      August 5, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: