Category: Comedy

The Gang spill their guts

The Always Sunny Podcast review

Rating –

The Alwyas Sunny Podcast logo

Let’s get one thing straight. I love It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Actually, I love it apart from the first series, but the guys themselves will admit that that was the weakest of the lot. When I heard about this podcast I went all giggly with anticipation about what paint sniffing, rum ham, toe spoon hilarity would ensue. This opening paragraph probably has enough fanboy fawning for the whole review, but please read on, dear subscriber.

So what’s it about?

For those who don’t know, It’s Always Sunny‚Ķ is a sitcom following five truly awful human beings who run an Irish pub in Philadelphia. Brother and sister Dennis and Diandra (Dee) are from a wealthy family and are shallow and arrogant. Mac is a confused macho “bro” and Charlie is an illiterate dogsbody who gets all the “Charlie work”. The fifth member of the group is Frank who appears from series 2, played by Danny DeVito, he’s Dennis and Dee’s philandering father.

This podcast however is only slightly about all that. Charlie Day (Charlie), Rob McElhenney (Mac) and Glenn Howerton (Dennis) get together to talk about every episode of the sitcom so far. Think of it like a director’s commentary on a dvd. They admit from the outset that they don’t really know what they are doing, and I don’t think there’s been an episode so far where they’ve actually followed this premise. Joined by writer Megan Ganz, who acts as an arbiter of sorts, and tries to keep them in line. They get sidetracked, go off on tangents and try to make each other laugh with outrageous and offensive comments.

Is it any good?

Amongst all this chaos, there are some very interesting little nuggets of trivia though, which makes me wonder whether the guys are truly being themselves, or being some kind of mixture of the actors and the characters and the whole thing is very carefully planned indeed. Or maybe I’m giving them too much credit and they just really are very close to the characters they created. There are a few moments that stand out to me immediately. Charlie singing a song that made everyone cry, Rob recounting how when he was a kid, his mother would coat him in vinegar before he went to the beach, and Glenn’s uncanny CCH Pounder impression. The last one is mind blowing, and should have been the exclamation when he got to live his childhood fantasy of kicking a door in.

This podcast is as much an autobiography of the actors as it is an analysis of the show. Some of the stories of their childhood could really have been written for the show, especially one about Glenn accidentally hanging himself at church camp for a joke.

The humour here is very broad, and crude. A lot of people will find it offensive. I’m a mucky pup though so I find it hilarious. It’s also a treat when guests show up. Kaitlin Olson (who plays Dee, and is also Rob’s wife) shows up for a few episodes as does Charlie Day’s wife (The Waitress) and David Hornsby (Rickety Cricket). These episodes breathe even more life into the series, as there are more options to digress into hilarity.

Final thoughts

Having waxed rather lyrically about the genuis of this podcast, this is only really recommended for fans of the TV show. I mean, it’s literally a podcast discussing the TV show, so if you’re not familiar with that then it’ll be a pointless exercise. What I would do though is recommend you go and watch the TV show first. Then listen to the podcast. That’s a two for one offer I’m sure you’ll love (unless it turns out you hate the TV show).

You can get the Always Sunny Podcast here:

https://thealwayssunnypod.com/

Or wherever you get your podcasts

Anyone for Hornimans?

Brain Cigar review

Rating –

Brain Cigar logo

Many moons ago, when this blog was all fresh faced and smelling of SMA (other milk formula is available), I had this podcast recommended to me by someone (I thought it was my brother, but apparently not). Since then it has laid cold and lonely in my podcast list, waiting for its turn to get played. This week, I realised I had 200 unplayed episodes of various podcasts saved on my phone, so this has been picked at long last.

So what’s it about?

Brain Cigar is a comedy podcast by Peter Bayhnam and Jeremy Simmonds. There are surreal stories, interviews with weird characters and strange sponsor adverts that all coalesce into some strange alternate reality.

Pete Bayhnam has worked as a writer on many satirical comedy shows for decades. His film credits include the films of Sacha Baron Cohen, and the animated films Arthur Christmas and Hotel Transylvania. To some he will be the face of the 90s Pot Noodle adverts, but to me though he will always be the grubby, friendless basement dweller who got picked on by Richard Herring on Fist Of Fun.

I seem to recognise Simmonds’ voice, but I can’t place him. Likewise, an internet search produces many people by that name, but no exact results. I’m aware that I will no doubt be proved wrong by this statement, but I’d like to know what else he’s done apart from the NMTB writing etc.

The entire series is only six episodes and a “Christmas special”. I managed to get the whole lot finished easily in a few hours. When you look at the running time, it could obviously be done quicker than that. I had to keep rewinding certain parts though, because they were so funny.

The parts in question are the readings of John “Throat” Church’s autobiography The Architecture Of Bacon. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so loudly at a comedy show anywhere (probably series one of A Scottish Podcast). I suspect that “Throat” is voiced by Simmonds, but I’m not sure. It’s such a brilliant character that you really can’t tell. 

Is it any good?

Put it this way, it’s my joint favourite comedy podcast. I almost wish I could forget all about it so I could rediscover it all over again. Seriously, I reckon I’ll be listening to this every year for a long time. I don’t think it will ever stop being funny.

The humour here is generally quite dark, as you’d expect from someone with Baynham’s writing pedigree. It never plumbs depths as deep as Chris Morris’ show Brass Eye for example.

Julia Davis, who you’ll no doubt recognise from many well loved comedy shows gives a great performance in episode one as the completely awful founder of loneliness charity LAUK (pronounced “lowk” apparently). In fact she plays a whole range of awful characters as the series goes on. The highlight of which must surely be the New York Times reporter who reviews a Welsh funeral.

Final thoughts

If you’re a fan of anything on TV by Armando Ianucci, Chris Morris, Sacha Baron Cohen or Steve Coogan then you’ll love this. This is one of those series that I almost wish I had an extra point to score with. I really can’t recommend this highly enough. Also, contrary to the thoughts of “Doug in Colorado”, I loved The Architecture Of Bacon readings and would quite happily own that audiobook. 

Earlier I said that I would listen to this once a year, but I can’t help myself, I’ve just downloaded the whole thing again. I’ll just have to ignore the weird looks I get on the train as I burst out laughing.

As you well know by now. This is where I give a link to the website and say “you can get Brain Cigar here” etc. Unfortunately, there is no Brain Cigar website. I suspect it was lost in the same tragic server crash that lost the first six episodes of this show, and the the first 38 instalments of “H from Steps’ Guide to Affordable Laptops”. You can find it easily enough though. So find it, and listen to it.

*** EDIT***

It seems I was wrong about the website thing. I should have known there’d be some sneaky business involved. I had even seen the website in the search results, and discarded it because of the Spanish language used. So to return to a more traditional ending (because we all like familiarity don’t we, even if it does breed contempt). You can get Brain Cigar here:

https://www.braincigar.com/

or wherever you get your podcasts

Fae Dougie, Lee & John the dug

A Scottish Podcast review

Rating –

A Scottish Podcast logo

This has been a long time coming. Despite winning one of my coveted (purely imaginary) podcast geek trophies in December, I have never got around to writing a review. While other, newer podcasts jumped to the front of the queue, this one has always been waiting, like me waiting to be picked for school teams in PE. Today is that day though, A Scottish Podcast gets reviewed!

The first time I heard of this podcast was an interview with the creator Matthew McLean on The Good Friends Of Jackson Elias. His self-deprecating style and sense of humour immediately impressed me. With Scott Dorward waxing lyrical about it, It struck me as something I needed to listen to forthwith, so I did.

So what’s it about?

Some might say that ex radio DJ Lee Power is unemployable. That isn’t strictly true. Lots of people have employed him, it’s keeping a job that is the problem. After his most recent sacking, Lee decides to start a paranormal podcast. After the genesis of “The Terror Files”, he decides he needs a hand to run things. He teams up with reluctant friend Dougie (Dougie would probably despute the term “friend”), a musician recently returned from London.

Soon we are introduced to a wide range of insane locals, gangsters, and all manner of Lovecraftian horrors that lurk in the forgotten catacombs and windswept remote islands of Scotland.

The storylines themselves range from impromptu urbex under the streets of Edinburgh, to derelict military facilities to… well, I’m not saying any more than that. You’ll just have to listen.

Is it any good?

This is one of the funniest podcasts I’ve ever listened to. As I type this I am listening to all the series for the fourth time. Honestly, it’s still just as funny as the first. This goes to show the talent of Matthew McLean as a writer, as well as the brilliant voice talent for bringing the characters to irreverent life.

Talking of voice talent, series one features the legendary (in my book anyway) David Ault as Councillor Byers. His deadpan delivery suits the corrupt politician perfectly. An honourable mention also needs to be given to Jim Balfour as retired footballer and crude Francis Begbie-alike George. I think he probably has more of the classic lines than any character. Even though I know what he’s going to say, I’ll still laugh out loud as he says them.

The series really comes out swinging. Lee’s first story recounting his meeting with a werewolf to media students setting the gloriously crude style of the rest of the podcast. The first epsidoe also ingtroduces the weird meta style of McLeans writing. Lee frequently references real podcasts such as The Black Tapes, and later on Lee and Dougie reveal that they know they are only characters in someone elses podcast. Again, thats just another great detail that makes me love this show.

The later series release schedule has been “relaxed” to say the least, sometimes only a handful of episodes in a year. While the storylines may go on hiatus, there will be a few random posts of poems McLean has written. These are also very good, the one for his brother was outstanding, and really heartbreaking. These offer a great contrast to the silliness of the main story and show that he is far from a one trick pony.

Final thoughts

Most people think that anything to do with horror, and particularly the work of H.P. Lovecraft has to be serious, stuffy and usually not very scary. However, I think it lends itself more to humour. Maybe that’s just me, but podcasts like this, Wormwood, The Lovecraft Tapes, or Ain’t Slayed Nobody are much more entertaining (and yes, those last two are roleplaying podcasts, but they play how I like to, so they get a mention).

As I think I’ve made clear already, I love this podcast. The only caveat I would give any prospective listener is that the language is VERY coarse. If you have a disposition that gets upset at swear words and euphemisms of an incredibly inventive nature, then “Turn the tape off now, this is not a pop album” (as Ice T once said). I happen to think that swearing is very funny, but that’s just me…

You can get A Scottish Podcast here:

https://scottishpodcast.com/

Or wherever you get your podcasts 

Give me just a little more time, time, time

Athletico Mince review

Rating –

Athletico MInce logo

There are few things in this world I loathe as much as football. My feelings on the “beautiful game” are similar to Clarkson’s views on certain branches of the Windsor family tree. However, there are few things in the world I love more than Mr. Bob Mortimer.

Most people my age have grown up with Vic and Bob. From Big Night Out, to Shooting Stars, and now we are all old sods, Gone Fishing is must watch viewing. If you haven’t heard of this podcast, it should also be added to your list asap.

So what’s it about?

Originally conceived as a comedy podcast about football, hosted by Bob Mortimer and Andrew Dawson. Since about episode 20 though, this series has only a tenuous link to the overpaid prima donnas of the EPL and other leagues. The early episodes aren’t great. Bob and Andy even say you should probably skip the first few, and if you aren’t a football fan you can skip a few more.

The characters so brilliantly brought to life by Bob’s ramblings are football players or managers in name only. Harry Kane with his magic chin, Peter Beardsley’s joke book, Sean Dyche with his “motivational” songs and Steve McLaren and his pet snake Caspar could have any names as far as I’m concerned. They’d still be hilarious, although nowadays I can’t see pictures of Dele “Debbie” Alli without hearing Bob’s voice. It gets me in a right fluffery buffery.

Although that is not to say that the only celebrities getting rebuilt from scratch are footballers. Matt Allwright, Jeremy Corbin, Denise Welch, Sting and more all appear in increasingly surreal situations (the latter in Bob’s “crime” series Geordie Heat).

If you also add into the mix the South African gangbanger, Bob’s Crime Files (he does love his crime), the Scottish songs/stories and Barry Homeowner aka Train Guy, and you have such a varied range of hilarity that you are bound to find something that will elicit at least one laugh an episode (and probably a lot more).

Is it any good?

OF COURSE IT IS. I would go so far as to not recommend this to football fans. They get precious about people mocking the children’s game they devote vast amounts of time and money to slavishly follow. Seeing how things that originally started as throw away lines have developed into epic storylines (as the adventures of Steve McLaren and Caspar are testament to) show Bob’s skill as a comedy writer. I’m actually not sure how much of the show is written. There are stories where Andy supplies voices, so I’m sure that these are pre planned, but likewise I’m sure there’s a lot of stuff that just gets made up.

Up to this point, this has been a rather one sided review. As I said at the beginning, here are two presenters and so far I’ve only been talking about one.

Andy Dawson comes from a more sports oriented background, hosting the podcast Top Flight Time Machine (which is a football podcast, so there’s no chance of me reviewing it). He really holds his own, and whilst not having quite an equal split of the jokes, he provides plenty of laughs as well. Usually when he starts corpsing at Bob’s attempts at accents.

Final thoughts

If you like football then have a listen. If you don’t like football, but like Bob Mortimer then have a listen. If you don’t like Bob, or football then I suggest you listen anyway, because it is one of the best comedy podcasts out there. The only “downside” is that when Bob is filming then they release compilation episodes. So there’ll be a whole episode of Peter Beardsley, or Scottish tales or some such. Due to the quality of the writing they do hold up to repeated listening (hence my use of inverted commas around downside).

Wow, 684 words fell out of my head in about 2 hours. Just goes to show how much I love this show.

You can get Athletico Mince here:

https://athleticomince.com/

Or wherever you get your podcasts

Enter the echo chamber

Two Flat Earthers Kidnap A Freemason review

Production Company – Good Pointe

Rating –

Two Flat Earthers Kidnap A freemason logo

Due to my recent acknowledgement that I really need to be on Twitter more to try and  build some semblance of an audience, I have been on a real voyage of discovery with regards to new shows. I had got to the end of a rather mediocre series, when the first episode of this was previewed. Mainly due to the cast (who I shall get into later) I subscribed and started on this strange and hilarious journey.

So what’s it about?

Two Flat Earthers Kidnap A Freemason is a comedy show dealing with conspiracy theories and social media. It follows the adventure of two struggling flat earth YouTubers named Dunning and Kruger (yeah, yeah, I know), who decide that in order to stand out from the other flat earth YouTubers (who are gaining more views than them) they need to do something dramatic. Cue the premise of the show’s title.

Whilst I’m sure that certain sections of the conspiracy world are as silly and misguided as this series portrays, I’m not so sure if the Freemasons are. Although maybe they are. They wouldn’t say so either way would they?

The disappearance of one of their own throws the Freemasons into a panic, and the game is afoot to try to figure out just who would be audacious enough to do this, and recover their brother.

Is it any good?

Absolutely. The story is very well written, and silly without being inane. The production values are high, and the characters are (mostly) all well acted. Speaking of the cast, there is some stellar talent here:

David Ault needs no introduction on this blog. If you’ve read my previous reviews then you’ll know I have immense admiration for his work, and his mere inclusion in a podcast is usually enough to get me onboard.

Graham Rowat is brilliant as the Alex Jones-alike radio host Newsham. I recognised his voice instantly from his other work. He also played my all time favourite podcast character, Sir Henry Blackwood (a.k.a. SCP 1867. I highly suggest you search for this particular episode and give it a listen. You wont be disappointed)*.

Josh Rubino also deserves an honourable mention for turning Isaac Newton into Steven Toast. Whether intentional or not, it makes for a very entertaining interpretation.

The only real criticisms I have are that there are times when the background music is too intrusive. This is usually when the characters are listening to The Newsham Hour. I may be missing a joke here, I mean I am at work when I listen to this, so maybe I’ll go back through one more time. Also, there are a few of the voice actors who aren’t quite up to the level of the main characters.

These are really pretty criticisms really, and they are the only downsides to an otherwise perfect series. I think it shows the quality of the podcast that I’m really struggling to find fault with it.

Final thoughts

This is a great, genuinely funny show. It’s one that makes a refreshing change from the horror and drama, both fictional and real, that fills my ears for 8 hours a day. I think you’ll love this show, unless the characters are a bit too close to home. In that case I advise you to adjust your tinfoil hat and follow this podcast’s advice for negative reviews.

As I was searching for a copy of the logo to use, I see that this show has also been made into a TV show. This seems to be something of a trend nowadays, and I can’t wait to see if it’s as good as the original. Truth be told, I was disappointed with the adaptation of Limetown.

I would also like to point out that whilst I am a fan of long titles (My old band had one of the longest album titles since Marc Bolan released his first album), this podcast has played havoc with my SEO settings. Do I use an acronym or not? I vote not. To hell with Google’s algorithms this time!

*The character of Sir Henry Blackwood was so beloved to me that I actually named one of my Call Of Cthulhu investigators after him. Although I brought him forward to the 1920s and made him a bit more “Terry Thomas”, the DNA was there though, and I’ll love the mad old sod forever.

You can get Two Flat Earthers Kidnap A Freemason here:

https://pod.link/1582700456

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

This seems to be another one of those podcasts that doesnt have a proper website. The above link is to listen, the production company and podcast site is here:

https://goodpointepodcasts.com/

Church of the PENNtecost

Penn’s Sunday School review

Rating –

Penn's Sunday School logo

I heard about this podcast somewhere very recently (I can’t remember where) and instantly subscribed. I’ve been a fan of Penn and Teller since they were first shown on British TV at the end of the 80’s, so it was a no brainer for me. Teller (obviously) isn’t a character that lends himself to the audio format, but Penn certainly is. So without further ado, let’s head off to Penn’s Sunday School and preach some peace and love.

So what’s it about?

Penn’s Sunday school seems to be an excuse for Mr. Jillette and his friends to just sit around and “shoot the shit”. There are reminiscences of past lovers, starting out in the industry, and some “current” topics (current at the time anyway). Don’t let this fool you though. While I use the rather flippant term, there is much to enjoy here, and it is far from some droning ramblings to fill the silence, or gaps in Penn’s ego.

Each week he’s joined by regular guest hosts Michael Goudeau and Matt Donnelly. Occasionally special guests sit in (Piff The Magic Dragon was a particular highlight). There are also a few interviews thrown in too, just in case you should get bored of the regular format (you shouldn’t). These are usually people from or adjacent to Penn’s line of work, but there is very little “shop talk” here. That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but as it goes they just talk about “stuff”. Shows they’ve seen, places they’ve been. As I said, “shooting the shit”. 

Is it any good?

Of course it is. If there’s one thing that Penn can do (apart from magic, juggling, and playing bass), it’s talking. He’s a phenomenal raconteur and all his stories are brilliant. This isn’t to say that the other guys just put a penny in the slot and watch him go, they are all very witty and entertaining, and are more than capable of holding court with Mr. Jillette.

One of my favourite episodes came very early on. It was the “McDracula” episode, when one of them had been to Romania and the whole hour was spent making various vampire jokes and arguing about why Americans would “do Transylvania better”.

I really don’t think there is anything better than genuinely witty people firing off each other and making each other laugh (and not in that irritating, smug way that “comedians” on Mock The Week or other panel shows do either). I guess that comes from being magicians or clowns. You need to engage the audience more than other professions.

This series has drawn more than one weird glance my way as I snort out loud at something when I’m on the train, or as I walk through town and a massive smile stretches across my face for no apparent reason. A particular example of this was when they Google translated a Japanese review of Penn’s album. That is something I don’t think will ever not be funny.

Final thoughts

You don’t have to be a magic fan to like this podcast, there’s plenty to enjoy here. Actually, if you are a magic fan then you probably won’t like it, if that’s all you’re after. They are less likely to discuss the “reverse faro shuffle” as they are to talk about books, or offering car rental companies money to trash a car.

I appreciate that I’m very late to the table here. I’ve got hundreds of episodes to catch up on, and this review is entirely based on the first 20 or so. There may be some format changes I don’t yet know about, or some groundbreaking new development. I really try to avoid skipping too far forward, so forgive me for maybe missing out on something important.

And remember, “we spinning dick, swinging play”.

You can get Penn’s Sunday School here:

https://pennsundayschool.com/

Or wherever you get your podcasts 

Be open to all to all possibilities

Dark Air with Terry Carnation review

Production company – Imperial Mammoth, Audioboom and Kelly&Kelly

Rating –

Dark Air logo

As you will have no doubt read in last week’s review. I’m a huge fan of Rainn Wilson’s curmudgeonly radio host Terry Carnation. When I discovered that he had his own show, I immediately subscribed. I wasn’t disappointed, and I don’t think you will be either (unless you don’t like the guy, but then I can’t help that).

So what’s it about?

Terry Carnation is a haunted man. An “expert” on the paranormal and the occult, he had his own late night radio talkshow that offered him some success. After the death of his wife, he had a breakdown and lost the only other thing he loved. The radio show. Now however, he’s back. He has a new intern, the puppy dog like uberfan Jeet, and he’s ready to answer any mysteries the callers can throw at him.

During his first show, he receives a strange call from someone who he believes is his dead wife. This sets him off on a mission to solve the mystery. Is she dead and calling from beyond the grave, or is she alive and being held hostage somewhere? He travels all over the country (within reason) desperately looking for clues.

Is it any good?

Absolutely. As I said in the Radio Rental review, Terry Carnation is a genius character. This show really expands on it though. In Radio Rental, he was just introducing each “tape” and passing judgement on some of the stories, my comparison to Crypt Keeper in Tales From The Crypt was justified I think. Here, he is a fully fleshed-out eccentric. The characters are brilliantly realised too, from the strange callers and the even stranger employees at the radio station. His nemesis (and ex-intern) Wes Popovitz now has his own radio show too. Wes is best described as Alex Jones turned up to 11 (if your brain could even fathom that). It’s a spot-on parody of right wing conspiracy shows so beloved of a certain section of society.

You will happily follow Terry as he upsets everyone he meets, tests the patience of his long suffering therapist, makes illegal adverts in exchange for out of date food, and generally acts like a tornado of profanity and bad habits. Despite this, there is (occasionally) a genuine pathos to him. He is a man adrift. He’s lost the only person he ever loved, and he’s lashing out at the world trying to stay relevant (and sane), despite the efforts of the world to knock him down continually.

Final thoughts

This is a show that I can’t recommend highly enough. It is laugh out loud funny (if you have a reasonably dark sense of humour) and it’s very well produced. As I said, the voice acting is top notch, as is the sound design.

As I had mentioned in my review of A Voice From Darkness, this is the opposite (and yet equally perfect) mix of darkness and humour. That is 90% humour, 10% darkness. It’s really a mirror image of that show, and also of Radio Rental. Very few podcasts have that ability to warrant more than one playthrough. This is one of those.

Just do yourself a favour and subscribe to this right now.

When I was looking for the logo image and some production company info, I visitied his website. I only mention it because it is such a perfect design for a man like Terry Carnation that it really deserves a mention (and a visit too). You can find it here.

You can get Dark Air With Terry Carnation here:

https://audioboom.com/channels/5046661

Or wherever you get your podcasts

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