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Stand-Up on the Web: Podcasts and Comedy

Last year Louis CK told TIME Magazine, “To me the goal of comedy is to just laugh, which is a really high hearted thing, visceral connection and reaction”.

One of the major points of stand-up is for the comedian to create a relationship with his or her audience. The comedian normally depends on the gap between the stage and audience (literally and figuratively) to create a slightly skewed reality that allows both parties to look at normal, awful, or wonderful things in a funny way.

While most stand-up comedians have not spent the past few decades hiding in a cave, the popularity of podcasts and other internet streaming media has welcomed a new format for comedians and audiences to connect. There are hundreds of  different ways to tell a story all related to comedy and the entertainment business. Here are a few options that are simply lovely.

The documentary/interview style podcast that chronicles a comedians personality and career  is my absolute favorite. Rather than taking a formal Charlie Rose approach, most of these episodes are more of a guided conversation by the host where they sit in the room and talk about whatever comes up.

The “starter pack” for this style consists of the following shows: WTF with Marc Maron, Nerdist (with Chris Hardwick), and You Made It Weird (with Pete Holmes). Each host has their own quirky personality with Holmes’ goofiness, Hardwick’s awesome-guy-who-lives-down-your-hall vibe, and Maron’s grumpy old Jewish comedy veteran shtick. As for your tasting menu, Hardwick is a great appetizer to all things nerd and fandom related (be it Star Wars, comedy, or anything else that there are Tumblr communities founded on). Nerdist podcasts provide a friendly  conversation that covers the guest’s career but also witty riffs between Chris and other guests that will have you giggling to yourself on your walk to class.

Maron starts every show with a ten minute monologue that is partly him working out stand-up material and party just him providing an opportunity for you to listen to a curmudgeon of a man. These episodes are often long and packed with information. They normally include the follow segments: Marc apologizing for being a drunk a-hole to the guest twenty years ago, thirty minutes spent on what the guest was like in high school, and an hour covering the guest’s entire journey in their comedic career.

It may not be for everyone but if one of your favorite musicians or comedians have been a guest on WTF, I highly recommend giving it a listen while you reorganize your room or have a long commute. Finally, You Made It Weird is the ultimate silly conversational show. Pete doesn’t really want to force any agenda on the show and simply invites friends or friendly people onto the show for a long conversation which will cover whatever the guest wants to talk about.

As the title of the show goes, the topics are not normally PG and can range between food & career advise to deep thoughts on religion & sex. If anything, give an episode a listen just to hear Holmes’s laughter. It’s physically impossible not to laugh along with it as it booms inside your earphones.

There are other podcasts as well that take on more of a radio/TV show set up with various guests and themes throughout each episode. “How Was Your Week” with Julie Klausner takes on a talk show format with an overall theme that the week’s unique guests talk about. Comedy Bang Bang with Scott Aukerman involves sketches and interviews with a surreal twist. The David Feldman Show (disclaimer: I am his second cousin) is a political show that includes interviews, skits, and commentary from a variety of guests.

Other podcast like Judge John Hodgeman takes on a completely different persona than a host to the comedy world and acts as a judge judy for the Internet nerd. For example, Hodgeman and his jury spends an hour hearing the debate two friends and the appropriate amount of time to leave a show on another friends TiVo. There is also The Chris Gethard show which is actually a public access show in NYC but is just as charming and wacky as any intimate podcast.

There are obviously hundreds of other podcast options and I encourage you to create your own “starter pack” just by browsing through the iTunes  store  since  all  podcasts are FREE.

Think of this list as a Comedy Nerd Podcast 101 kit. Most websites should offer a “best of” list for each show so you’ll know where to start. If you have any questions or suggestions please email me at! So turn on, tune in, and laugh out loud!