Since I spend so much time driving with my job, I need something to occupy my mind. When I started I used to listen to a lot of books on tape. I moved over to listening to satellite radio when XM came out. (bought it the first day it was offered.) I would mix these in with music, as I’m kind of a freak for it. (see my music site if more interested, rock, paper, blog)
In the past couple of years I’ve gotten away from listening to much satellite radio, as podcasts have kind of taken over for me. I listen to the usual suspects like Adam Carolla, Bill Simmons, and This American Life, but besides those, I mainly just listen to standup comics podcasts.
The 3 best standup comic podcasts in my opinion are Marc Maron’s WTF, Greg Fitzsimmons’ Fitzdog Radio, and Jay Mohr’s Mohr stories. Chris Hardwick’s The Nerdist is good, but I’m not his target audience, so I kind of pick and choose with him. Joe Rogan’s is pretty great, but the length of his episodes are so long that I find not listening to his as much. I used to listen a lot to Jimmy Dore’s Comedy and Everything Else, but the length of it’s episodes also started to keep me from downloading it. I love Jimmy Pardo but it’s a little too talk-showey for my tastes, so I pick and choose with it, as well. Bill Burr might be my favorite comic out there today, but I like the back and forth conversation that my favorite podcasts have and Bill’s is mainly just a stream of consciousness rant. All of these shows are good and run by extremely talented standups. I just have only so much time, so I lean towards the one’s I listed in the first paragraph.
Maron’s podcast is great because he explores what is the reason behind why comics do what they do. You get a healthy (or more apt, unhealthy slice) of Marc’s personal demons, too. It’s hard to go wrong with any of his episodes, but the Louis CK, Carlos Mencia, Dane Cook, and Gallagher podcasts probably got him the most attention. Way before I ever considered doing standup, I was a fan of it, so I really appreciate Marc’s exploration of the business. I also respect how personal he is with his life, on and off-stage. Sure he’s a selfish narcissist who’s life I have little in common with besides standup, but it’s interesting for me looking at what I might be like if I never had gotten married and had kids. It’s almost comforting that the mental strain my life has now could possibly even be worse if I didn’t have a family, as it seems for Maron.
Greg Fitzsimmons talks about being happy about his career being in the middle. I have to disagree with his assessment of himself. I think a guy who headlines some of the best clubs in the country, written a best-selling book, has won Emmy’s writing for Talk shows, been a showrunner for TV shows, hosted game shows, has his own radio talk show on the Howard Stern channel on Sirius radio, etc… is not a guy in the middle. Greg is one of the comics I have the most respect for in the business, as he has done so many different things in the comedy world, but has managed to always stay one of the best standup comics in the country. I appear on his Grand Rapids titled podcast, which was really cool since I’m a big fan of Fitzdog radio.
More recently Jay Mohr has jumped into the podcasting world. He is a natural storyteller and has done so many different things in his career that he has a wealth of material to get into. My favorite episodes are when he has his long-time manager, Barry Katz, in-studio with him. Barry has managed at one-time or another, a large portion of the best standups of the past 2 decades and as controversial of a figure he is in the biz, he has a ton of great stories, as well.
I’ve had some comics ask me why I don’t have a podcast. My first answer is that I don’t have the time with the rest of what goes on with my busy life. My niche outside of standup is this blog. I think it’s unique and I’m happy with its progression.
I also haven’t done a podcast because I don’t feel I would get enough listeners to make it worth my while. There is no shortage of podcasts at this point, so if you are going to do one and expect to have any listeners, you better have an idea for it that makes it somewhat unique. Besides being super funny people, the most successful podcasts have something in common, they have professional broadcasters doing them.
- Adam Carolla (who is the best) hosted radio shows for 15 years.
- Maron was part of Air America’s morning show for a few years.
- Mohr has had his own TV talk show (ESPN) and has filled in for Jim Rome for years.
- Fitzsimmons has done morning radio shows for years and his Dad was a big-time radio personality in NYC.
- Hardwick has hosted TV shows for 15 years.
- Rogan has hosted TV shows like Fear Factor and the UFC.
- Pardo has hosted a gameshow and done tons of morning radio, as has Burr and Dore.
It’s no accident that these guys are great at podcasting. They have tons of experience in some form of broadcasting. If you are a comic with not a lot of experience thinking about podcasting, I do think it’s a great place to learn how to get better at doing radio. There is an art to doing well on radio, which some good standup comics never master. It’s not so much about doing your act, as much as it is being conversational and keeping your energy level up high. If you can use a podcast practicing this, I think that is a great idea. I would expect though, that you will suck at them the first few times you do them, unless you get a great guest, so be careful how you disseminate them to the general public. A meandering, boring podcast is not going to win you any new fans and might make the one’s you already have question why they are in the first place.