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Entertaining Podcasts About Entertainment

by JJ McCabe

1. Doug Loves Movies
Stoned “Professional Humoredian” Doug Benson takes advantage of his
decades of work in stand-up, TV and film to invite hilarious and
interesting people from those worlds (mostly other comedians, but
occasionally film luminaries like John Lithgow and Leonard Maltin
himself) to join him in front of live audiences and discuss movies as
well as play games like “The Leonard Maltin Game” and “Build a Title.”
The games have a disjointed arbitrary breeziness to them similar to
the scoring in “Who’s Line is it Anyways?” but though the competition
can be spirited, the overall feeling is of a very talented and funny
group of friends hanging out over beers B.S.-ing about flicks

Recommended listening:
Ep. 34 – Jon Hamm, Paul F. Tompkins, semi-final rounds Tournament of Champions

That’s right, Don Draper himself. Hamm is a semi-regular guest on the
show, and he acquits himself nicely with laid-back charm and a sharp
wit. Paul F. Tompkins is one of the best stand-up performers around,
and he’s actually one of the best contestants, consistently making it
to the finals each year.

2. How Did This Get Made
Paul Scheer Jason Mantzoukas, and June Diane Raphael (all from Human
Giant and many other very funny t.v. shows) get together and watch
cinematic catastrophes ranging from the sublimely insane (Crank 2,
Punisher Warzone,) to the completely unwatchable (88 minutes,
Tiptoes,) and riff on them. Not quite an MST-3k knock off, the show
is at its best when the hosts have a clear affection for the films and
try to get a sense of how they ended up going so off the rails.

Recommended listening:
Episode 20: Punisher Warzone

The hosts have had guests from the cinematic abominations on the show
to defend their work in the past, from a brief post-script interview
with Brian Taylor of Neveldine-Taylor on the film “Crank 2” to a live
screening of “Birdemic” with Weird Al and star Whitney Moore, but this
is the first episode to have the film’s director for the entire
episode. Lexi Alexander makes a compelling argument that the very
elements that made her film such a failure are the ones that make it
so true to the source material, and that the critical back-lash
stemmed largely from a poorly timed release date, and studio meddling
with the score that skewed the darkly comic tone intended. I remember
seeing the film when it came out and finding it unwatchable, but after
listening to this episode went back and re-watched the movie and quite
enjoyed it. Though not every episode intends to save reputations, the
few gems like this set How Did This Get Made apart from other more
mean-spirited critical snarkfests.

3. Boars Gore and Swords
Think of yourself as a nerd ‘cuz you own the Firefly box set and have
a Zelda tattoo? Ivan Hernandez and Red Scott are two San Francisco
stand-up comedians that co-host a podcast devoted to the epic fantasy
book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” and the “Game of Thrones”
television series, and in their commentary draw on a vast cultural
well of breathtakingly nerdy references, from deep cuts of the Marvel
and D.C. universes to retro videogames, Simpsons references, D&D, and
power metal. The material is strictly for nerds, by nerds as well
befits the subject matter, but for any among you who can recite the
house words of the Iron Born, the show is hiiii-larious.

Recommended listening:
2×05: The Ghost of Guy Branum

Yes, at over 2 hours in length this is by far the longest episode of
the show, but arguably one of the best. Guy Branum (of X-Play) has
some very fascinating insights into the thematic elements that make
the Song of Ice and Fire series so compelling, and his dry wit and
sassy tone keeps the comparatively goofy hosts on their toes.

4. Requiem Metal Podcast
Host Mark Rudolph was the co-creator and editor of the Requiem &
Eclipse metal zines back in the late ‘80s and early 90’s, and his
co-host Jason Hundley is a high-school history teacher. The quiet,
distinctly mid-western, scholarly angle of the show may seem at odds
with the music – underground death, black and thrash metal with a
particular emphasis on early Swedish death and death-doom – but for
any younger fans of metal or those who may have missed out on some
seminal early band’s catalogs, it’s a terrific resource. With several
two and three part episodes covering the work of bands like Death,
Carcass, Slayer, Emperor etc. and the absolutely essential “Crucial
Years of Heavy Metal,” the podcast archive is a masters class in all
things extreme, from a couple of guys who were there from the
beginning and in some cases had opportunities to interview some of the
titans of the underground back when the only way to hear the music
here in the states was through tape-trading networks and ‘zines. Add
in the yearly round-ups of the best in new releases as well as the
occasional episode devoted to newer bands, and the podcast provides an
ongoing education in brutality.

Recommended Listening:
Death: parts 1,2,3

The earliest and most influential of the Tampa Bay death metal scene,
this extremely comprehensive analysis of the entire discography is
full of interesting behind the scenes tidbits and – more importantly –
some great cuts by one of the most important American metal bands of
all time.

5. Indoor Kids
Stand-up comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon get
together with other comedians, video-game journalists, developers, and
other interesting people to discuss video games. Topics range from
the heady and abstract such as a lengthy and fascinating discussion on
whether or not games can be art, and the differences in narrative
between games and film, to nostalgic remembrances of seedy video
arcades from childhood.

Recommended listening:
Church of Skyrim Part 2 (with Dan Harmon)
Dan Harmon, creator and show runner of beloved cult t.v. show
“Community,” stopped by in mid-December when the video game world as a
whole was still transfixed by the ground-breaking rpg “Skyrim.” In
typical Indoor Kids fashion, the levity of these talented comedians is
tempered with some fascinating explorations of the mind-bending new
form of narrative created when a virtual world has been entirely
populated by npc’s that live their own lives independent of the
player. Many of the themes discussed in another excellent episode
“Are Video Games Art? (With Film Critic Hulk) are touched on here but
in a less academic, more illustrative manner.

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