Entries in earwolf (44)

Tuesday
Jan102012

Earwolf & Jon Daly Let Loose The Rafflecast

Jon Daly *Photo by James ChristopherJon Daly has proven to be one of comedy’s rising stars, and much of his success is due to his character work in podcasts like Comedy Bang! Bang! Earwolf recently dropped a new Earwolf Presents for Daly and comedy fans everywhere: “Jon Daly's Rafflecast."

The “Rafflecast” begins with the awakening of Jon 4000, a University of Phoenix college radio DJ. Jon lists the recently-heard tracks on the radio, including songs by Jimmy Buffet with "I’m the Karl Rove of Music," Vampire Weekend with "Check out our Influences," the Jocks with "Nerds Suck," The Nerds with "We Like Tits," and Moby with “Black People Singing Soulfully Over Shitty World Music House Beats.”

Daly returns as himself for the next segment and explains he will do things on this podcast based on requests from people via his Twitter account: @jondaly. He will pretty much do anything asked of him. Case in point: 3 “hilarious” fans of his ask him to fellate himself, which he attempts (but fails) to do on air. Now no one better ask him to orally please himself anymore…it’s been tried. If the show goes to a regular series, we'll see how this ask the fans segment continues to fare. And how Daly survives.

During the next segment, Daly rants about the federal government shutting down California dispensaries via a Cypress Hill-inspired rap titled “Icky Icky, the Weed’s Too Sticky.” The music continues as Daly records a hilarious and well recorded Van Halen-inspired tune about “driving around” and “fucking.”

Daly then “pulls some strings” to have Mr. Freeze from Batman read Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice.” Next, Garrison Keillor comes on to celebrate “Jelloem laureate” Bill Cosby Bukowski's birthday. Keillor even plays a rare 1967 “jelloem,” recorded live in Café Scumbag all the way on the “Lower East Side of Los Angeles.” Finally, Daly does the seemingly impossible feat of re-enacting City Slicker’s II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold in 1 minute. It should be noted: Daly has never seen CS II.

This podcast is hilarious and highlights Daly’s genius in a new medium. I anxiously anticipate more “Rafflecast” episodes, and hopefully a regular podcast á la Daly’s fellow cracked-out partner, Brett Gelman’s “Gelmania.” I’m sure we would see more guests along with characters like Sappity Tappity, everyone’s favorite drunk English rollerblading Christmas Tree! Follow Daly on Twitter at @jondaly and catch him live all over Los Angeles.

You can listen to Earwolf Presents Jon Daly's Rafflecast here.

Monday
Jan022012

Quality Year-end Podcast Post from Paul M. Davis

Via his 12-Point Plan blog, tech writer Paul M. Davis published a great year-end podcast column. Along with his own Top Ten list, Davis offers up a quick but substantial commentary on the state of podcasting as we enter 2012. Davis gives Earwolf credit for the slew of new independent podcasting networks and wonders where the technology and broadcasters are headed.

Check-out Davis's full post here.

You can check-out more from Paul M. Davis here.

Friday
Dec092011

Earwolf Goes Mobile With New Eardrop Audio Twitter App

It's been a week now but Earwolf has been trucking along with a new bit of social media technology, turning it's innovative call-in podcast, Eardrop, into an equally innovative Audio Twitter app, under the same name. The service launched its testing in November and became available to the public last week.

The Eardrop app allows users to post short audio files to their Twitter profiles, creating an Eardrop page with all of your audio "drops" in one place. It's all instant. Digtal audio comedy is now in the hands of everyone.

Earwolf's catalog of hosts and funny friends are already making great use of the service. Rob Huebel and Jake Fogelnest are early Eardrop MVPs with their creative drops. Check-out their drops for some good examples of how comedians can make use of the audio format.

Definitely happy to see the plucky podcast company extend their creativity and programming efforts into the social media realm. Proof that podcasting isn't always just about those cherished hosted shows. Content can come in all shapes and sizes.

Check-out eardrop.fm for the app and more info.

 

Full disclosure: I help out with Earwolf a little bit (including the Funny Or Die video) but that doesn't mean this isn't a quality development for podcasting and digital comedy fans.

Wednesday
Nov232011

Brett Gelman & Earwolf Get Inside Your Brain With Gelmania

Gelmania is not a podcast. According to comedian Brett Gelman, the latest Earwolf Presents offering is “everywhere and everything.” Gelman warns listeners - at the beginning - if they have a problem with “free thinking, free feeling, or freedom in general” they should NOT keep listening. However, he encourages, if “your drug of choice is justice - pump up the fucking volume.” 

Brett Gelman *Photo by M. Berru

Don't let the soothing ocean and seagull sound effects fool you. This digital comedy test balloon is not for the faint of heart. Released this past Halloween, Gelmania is a haphazard creative exploit and hilarious for all the risk taking. Gelman begins the balls-out proceedings by reading some hate mail. The letter vilifies him as some "hippy, commie, anarchist" who "prays to vaginas and movies." The next segment is sure to please fans of Gelman’s rap duo, Cracked Out. Although, this time out, he raps solo. Aiming to take down Christian fundamentalists. Following this musical portion, comes a story involving Pepto-Bismol, which has a similar tone to his celebrated lauded Comedy Bang! Bang! “iBrain” story (see: Ep. #35). Gelmania then lets Complaining James Gandolfini go off and before concluding with a live recording of Tim Heidecker’s hacky right-wing stand-up persona.

For comparison sakes, if you're a podcast comparison junkie, Gelmania ventures into the Pod F Tompkast mash-up realm, along with...let's say a dash of Aleister Crowley flare. According to Gelman, it provides a pass "to be as crazy and as weak as you wanna be.” 

Word on the digital street is more Gelmania will be making its way into the world in the near future. Stay tuned to Earwolf for updates.

Follow Gelman on Twitter at @brettgelman and catch him live all over Los Angeles and your brain.

Tuesday
Nov082011

Earwolf Gets Social With New Eardrop App & Site

This week Earwolf announced the pending launch of it's new Eardrop Twitter service - which means now everyone gets a chance to share audio "drops" with their Twitter followers. Right now, they're spending a few weeks testing with some comedians and volunteers using the service to record audio via the new Eardrop app.

Upon the completion of testing and release to the general public, Earwolf plans to start-up the podcast version of Eardrop again, as well. The podcast will feature the top drops from their premium users (aka comedian and celebrity friends), released as a daily download (or streaming if that's your thing).

The top drops will be found at at www.eardrop.fm, along with the Twitter streams of users - just like any other Tweet. So there you have it. More ways for people to share in the series of tubes.

Comedian Rob Huebel's goodnight message is already an early favorite drop. Check-it out.

Monday
Nov072011

Earwolf Launches YouTube Channel

Earwolf announced via its blog the launch of its YouTube Channel today. Other podcasts have taken to the video streets to release show clips or extra bonus material. Earwolf plans on releasing entire shows (at least the short ones), favorite clips and even some possible bonus materials from their shows. Fans can finally share some of their favorite clips. To help promote the launch, they're releasing this week's episodes of Affirmation Nation with Bob Ducca exclusively on their YouTube channel.

To prove I'm not lying, here's a fun Amy Poehler and Adam Pally Comedy Bang! Bang! clip:

Wednesday
Oct052011

Earwolf & WTF Make The Laughspin Comedy App List

Laughspin's Dylan P. Gadino offered up a list of seven favorite comedy apps for the iPhone earlier this week. Two comedy podcast apps made the list: Earwolf and WTF with Marc Maron. The audio and digital nature of podcasts makes for an easy fit in the mobile realm. However, there's not a litany of branded comedy podcast apps out there for listeners.  At least not yet.

Podcasts have several different ways of reaching your ear holes, with mobile devices being high on the convenience list. For the most part, listeners are stuck with iTunes on the go or a podcast service like the Stitcher Radio (still occupying an ethical gray area with their use-content-until-we-get-caught funding plan). The content producers with the resources to create their own mobile app delivery systems have a head start on reaching current and potential listeners with the power of quality control and branding to boot. Kudos to the podcast companies for putting actual comedy content into their apps, versus the alternative of lighthearted gaming or time-wasting distractions.

Sunday
Sep182011

The Earwolf Challenge Recap - Week 10: The Final Challenge

Deep breath, Challengeers. The long and winding podcast road has led us to Week 10 at long last. We have arrivedPlease, indulge me for a bit as I briefly reflect on the past nine weeks in as self-absorbed a manner as possible.

First, I’ll venture to say that I have probably spent more time listening to The Earwolf Challenge since it began than anyone not employed by Earwolf. Typically, I listen to each episode at least twice, sometimes three times, in putting these recaps together. I’d estimate that I’ve spent six to eight hours a week neck-deep in this podcast.

The first time through’s just for enjoyment: I’m usually driving or out running errands with my son or something errand-ly. And not really in a position to write anything down. It gets me familiar enough to listen more closely on the next listen and get a deeper sense of what’s going on. The third and fourth time -- sometimes there’s a fourth time -- is when I’m actually sitting down to type this thing out, so there’s a lot of pausing and rewinding. Especially if someone’s on a roll and I’m doing a lot of quoting, like with Besser during Sketch Week.

Not having it around is going to leave a sizable hole in my week. It’s become so central to my schedule that I can hardly believe this is only its tenth week of existence. Sometimes I don’t get to Comedy Bang-Bang until, like, Friday. That’s commitment, people.

And when I think back on the podcasts we’ve left behind -- The Complete Guide to Everything, Television Zombies, Ham Radio, et al. -- it seems unthinkable that as recently as late July, I was listening to Beginnings get the boot while riding the trolley down to the San Diego Convention Center for Comic-Con. Two weeks later, on a flight to Indianapolis, I was furiously scribbling notes about the mercurial meaning of the phrase “recurring sketch” in the hopes of giving myself a fightin’ chance of somehow getting a recap out during GenCon. And then two weeks ago, with much less significant demands on my time, I didn’t get one out at all. Life, she is strange.

I’m still gutted that Left Handed Radio got the axe last week, but no more so than I would’ve been if it’d been Totally Laime or The Little Dum Dum Club instead. The Final 3 are a field of strong, proven competitors who can all be proud of their performance on the show. Kudos.

Anyway. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the competition, as well as the chance to put it under a microscope in these recaps. Yes, I know they’re not funny, but I’m leaving the comedy to the professionals.

Speaking of which, enough of my navel-gazing. Let’s get into it!

The Challenge

No coaching session this week! What’s left to say, really? Especially this week, when the challenge -- in the fine tradition of Top Chef and Project Runway and etc. -- is just “Give us a full episode of whatever you want to do.” (Called it!) Our guest judges, joining us Wednesday, are Earwolf founders Jeff Ullrich and Scott Aukerman. (Called that too! But who else could it be, really?)

In the meantime, we’re treated to a full episode from each of our two finalists.

Totally Laime. Elizabeth and Andy bring out the big guns in the form of Charlie Day of the FX series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, where he’s a standout in an already outstanding ensemble cast. I only recently discovered Sunny, somehow, and immediately understood why I’d been hearing so much about it. So the timing’s pretty good for me. I guess Andy really is psychic.

True to Totally Laime’s mission statement, the three do indeed address some pretty unimportant questions. Or... sort of. It’s much more conversational than that, really. If anyone gets the ball rolling, it’s Charlie himself, who relates a brief anecdote about a woman -- apparently a neighbor of Elizabeth and Andy’s -- whom he’s been avoiding for years without any conscious effort. That leads into talk of face blindness and distinguishing fans from friends (something that must be especially problematic for Charlie, since he and his Sunny character share the same name), and then we’re off. It’s basically a 30-minute conversation with no particular agenda or direction.

It’s my first time listening to Totally Laime after weeks of hearing it critiqued bit by bit, and it’s a little like following the development of The Lord of the Rings online for years before seeing it in theaters. (Which I did, obviously.) Andy’s more active than I would’ve expected, more of a full partner or co-host than a mere sidekick. We hear a bit about his upbringing in Idaho, which sounds like it could’ve been a subplot cut from an early draft of Napoleon Dynamite, the moon tattoo on his ass, and his dual fear of death-as-the-end and death-as-an-eternal-afterlife.

“You guys aren’t going to win too many comedy podcasts talking about dying,” Charlie says, but you get the idea. Soon after, he delivers what may be the line of the episode when he says that “Life’s too short to be religious.” (It’s either that or when Elizabeth’s use of the word “trim” prompts him to ask, “...Is that pussy?”) .

Most of the other details of the episode, though, just sort of... float by. Charlie’s genial and everything, but I don’t feel like they uncover anything especially mind-blowing about him, and he doesn’t come off as the finishing-move guest I’d hoped he’d be. Indeed, Elizabeth and Andy talk a lot more about themselves (and each other) than anything else. Sometimes it almost feels like they’re guests on Charlie’s podcast, with him throwing in commentary on their conversation.

Overall, I have to admit that I don’t find it especially compelling. I drift a lot, and have to backtrack and re-listen several times to make sure I’ve gotten it all. It’s not funny enough to make me laugh, nor is it interesting enough to consistently hold my attention. I did perk up at the return of “Lame or Totally?” in the final few minutes of the episode, but by the it feels like too little, too late.

The Little Dum Dum Club. Tommy and Karl get the same conversational “coaching session,” but it’s really just touching base before listening to their submission. They seem to still be peeved about last week’s whole Galifianakis fake-out.

Back in Week 1, I’d admitted a bias in favor of The Little Dum Dum Club because I’d heard their episodes featuring Marc Maron and Paul F. Tompkins. So, it’s with some trepidation I say this: Dum Dum’s submission is by far the more entertaining of the two. Totally Laime does indeed have more heart, but Dum Dum has four funny comedians hanging out and telling stories for half an hour.

In other words, it’s a familiar set-up. It lacks structure, but its sheer momentum easily carries it the entire time. Right from the get-go, in fact, there’s a real sense of energy that’s lacking in Totally Laime’s leisurely chat with Charlie Day.

Earlier in the competition, one of the guest judges -- Jesse Thorn, I believe -- said that the problem with most “talk show” podcasts is that they operate on the expectation that a conversation alone is going to be interesting for the listener almost by default. What they don’t understand is that someone needs to drive that conversation forward and make it engaging instead of just hoping it’ll end up that way on its own.

Tommy and Karl definitely get that. The discussion never lags or slows. It just moves on to the next story. Within a short span of time, they and their two guests Luke McGregor and Nick Cody bounce from Tommy’s anecdote/riff about protesters outside a high-end chocolate shop, Luke’s disdain for their theme music and an email sent to the guys from Nick’s mother. None of this feels rushed. Everything gets its due.

Speaking of the guests, Luke and Nick, though likely unknown by most of the North American listening audience -- an inherent problem with Dum Dum’s location -- acquit themselves well. Luke comes off as a sort of nebbishy Australian. The closing story Karl buying him a lap dance and his subsequent awkwardness (especially the nipple-and-nose bit) was priceless. Nick, of course, was previously featured in Dum Dum’s submission for the Using the Guest challenge back in Week 5, and has some funny material about a cruise-ship gig.

By the end, it’s fairly open and shut: The Little Dum Dum Club is the clear winner in my eyes. However, if you’re Earwolf, would you rather produce a show whose hosts live locally in Los Angeles, or one that’s recorded on the other side of the world? And would you rather have a show that routinely features known quantities like Charlie Day, or one that interviews comedians largely unknown to most of your potential subscribers?

It’s a nice bit of suspense heading into the Judgment episode, which is...two hours long.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep122011

Earwolf Goes Live on Funny Or Die

Earwolf and Funny Or Die are officially podcast partners today. Comedy fans can now listen to the entire catalog of Earwolf shows from the Funny Or Die website. The two companies will be sharing celebrity guests, podcast and advertising resources and overall comedy juju. Original Funny Or Die and Earwolf collaborated shows will be coming out in the future, as well. Exciting to see two strong online comedy brands hook up to push out more quality comedy to fans.

In honor of the launch, the partners released a fun "intro to podcasts" video today on Funny Or Die. The clip features two members of the Earwolf host fraternity, Seth Morris (also part of the Funny Or Die family) and Kulap Vilysack.

 

Sunday
Sep112011

The Earwolf Challenge Recap - Week 9: Time Crunch

Apologies again, loyal readers (or reader), for short-changing you last week.

I don’t want to backtrack too much, but did anyone else raise an eyebrow at not one but two mentions of a second season of The Earwolf Challenge? I’ll admit, the first thing that comes to mind is The Apprentice, which...yeah. But The Challenge has at least two things going for it: a likable host and likable competitors. Ten weeks of competitions means Earwolf surely learned some valuable lessons. I look forward to see how the show grows into a second season.

With only three competitors remaining going into Week 9, I can say I’m genuinely dreading the departure of any one of them. Taking a look at my embarrassingly bad predictions from Week 1, I see we’re left with one of my picks for the Final 3 (Left Handed Radio), one of my picks to go home within the first few challenges (The Little Dum Dum Club) and Totally Laime, who I clearly felt would meet an ignominious and unremarkable end somewhere en route. My classic two-thirds wrong guarantee in action. Nailed it.

Episode 9.1: Coaching Sessions

This week on Internet Screw-Job, the challenge is not lose your shit. Actually, I heartily approve of the screw-you twist, which Producer Frank attributes to Earwolf co-founder Scott Aukerman. It’s the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from reality competitions. I just wish it hadn’t come so late in the Challenge run. Even the best challenges of weeks past look pale and wan in comparison. So much “here, go do a thing” chaff, compared to this week’s pointing-and-laughing wheat.

My tortured metaphors aside, the twist is quality entertainment and relevant to the podcast medium. The competitors are told they’ll have an hour to interview Zach Galifianakis, when in fact there is no such interview scheduled. When it comes time for the phone call, they’re sent an email breaking the bad news. Mockingly, one would hope. Then they’re given 30 minutes to come up with something else.

This turns the coaching session into one big farce, as Matt Besser has to just bluff his way through with a straight face. Most of LHR’s session is in fact dedicated to talking about how to approach the interview (plus one brief Old Dirty Bastard anecdote), which is obviously a waste of time for Besser, the producers and the rest of us. But Besser wises up for Totally Laime and Dum Dum, delving into their process instead. It saves what would otherwise be an entire episode of marking-time. Besser’s feigned outrage that playing a game counts as an interview and his over-the-top insults in between Skype calls are funny, but c’mon. I like a good anti-Australian remark as much as the next guy, but they do not in and of themselves a good podcast make.

Episode 9.2: The Challenge

Walking the Room’s Dave Anthony and A Special Thing impresario and Never Not Funny co-host Matt Bellknap join Besser as our guest judges. Another highly qualified pair, to be sure, but, after last week’s Doug Benson and Harris Wittles rapport, it feels like a bit of a step down. I’ll try to push on.

(Seriously, where’s Randy Sklar? Is there tension in Sklarbro Country that only one twin was asked on the show? Surely the last two guest judges will be Aukerman and Jeff Ullrich, right?)

Matt BelknapDave AnthonyThe competitors are, on the whole, understandably pissed about the bait-and-switch. “Bait-and-switch” is probably an understatement, really. The two gab-fests were definitely excited about getting to interview a big star like Zach, and even though LHR didn’t really know what to do with their interview time, it was still going to be Zach Galifianakis.

LDDC is the only one of the three to put that energy -- that angry, angry energy -- into their submission. Ah…comedy: “the angry art.” Definitely working here. For a bit. As the judges point out, they do lose the thread after a couple minutes. Cutting it down to just three minutes would’ve improved it immensely. Even so, it produces the biggest laughs of the episode.

LHR’s entry is soundly panned by the judges, but it makes me laugh. Look, I know Borat’s a tired reference, and I know the sketch is flawed. It makes fun of how outdated the reference is but also tries to indulge in it. The overall result is pretty uneven. Unevenness aside, props to them for dealing with the situation and moving on like the professionals they are. And with editing and sound effects. Impressive. Plus, they managed to find a funny “show me the money” reference, which were previously thought extinct.

Conversely, I really cannot get into Elizabeth and Andy’s impromptu conversation with one another. The judges, on the other hand, love it. Compelling, engaging, etc. When Andy asks, “Can I pretend I’m [Zach]?” I’m pretty disappointed Elizabeth shoots him down. It could’ve been hilarious to invent a series of outright lies to Elizabeth’s prepared questions. Conversely, I find I don’t really care about their stories of awkward young lust. Like Dum Dum’s submission, it spends a lot of time meandering. But without the same level of energy and humor to kick things off. In fact, when the clip’s over, I’m positive Anthony, Belknap and Besser are going to slam it. But no! The opposite occurs! Maybe it’s a good thing I’m not a judge.

Despite the surprise response to Totally Laime’s submssion, the judges offer up a quality discussion about how putting Elizabeth and Andy’s marriage front and center could give the show the hook it needs. This seems like it’d implicitly promote Andy from Psychic to Host. Something at least one past judge discouraged. But, hey...that was weeks ago.

Episode 9.3: The Judgment

For the first time, a judgment episode fills me with a genuine sense of dread. I don’t want any of these podcasts to have to “lose.”

LHR is still pissed. “I guess we just didn’t find it funny you guys lied to us,” says Unnamed LHR Troupe Member #3. Their tale of furious diligence both sheds some light and makes their submission that much more extraordinary. I may be giving them too much credit here, especially since their sketch, which admittedly got a laugh or two out of me, was pretty sub par overall. But they offer up a solid defense and really seem to have it together, both technically and creatively. Earwolf could do worse.

“Isn’t the goal to make you laugh, at the end of the day?” Anthony muses after they hang up on LHR. Hmm. I’ll come back to that later.

Tommy and Karl aren’t quite as, uh, magnanimous as their Brooklyn competitors. They aren’t quite their usual affable selves. When asked if they kept a full five minutes on purpose when three may have been better, Karl seethes, “I was just five minutes’ worth of angry, that’s all.” Well, maybe he doesn’t seethe, per se, but it’s certainly the least-pleasant we’ve heard them over the past nine weeks. Then Anthony finishes it off with some good-ol’ American bullying, and they hang up.

Then Anthony adds, “I will say this: those two guys made me laugh the most.” Isn’t that the goal, at the end of the day? Perhaps not.

After some podcast-related chit-chat, it’s time for The Challenge’s most dramatic rose ceremony yet. LHR is cut loose, and they are calm and reserved in defeat. “Well, you blew it!” shouts Unnamed LHR Troupe Member #2. I can’t help but feel he’s right.

But really, having to let any of these three go feels like “blowing it,” in a way. The silver lining is the exposure received, plus the weeks of discussing the ins and outs of sketch comedy with Besser. Anna delivers one last quality barb: “Fuck it, Nerdist approached us with a million dollars!”

Now it’s on to Week 10. Excitement! What challenge does the last week of the competition hold? If it’s anything like your Top Chefs or your Project Runways, it’ll be something standard. Giving the remaining two podcasts near-total creative freedom. So, let’s hope it isn’t that.

In the meantime, I’ll tide myself over with the latest episode of LHR. Shine on, you crazy diamonds.