Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Podiwan Review 15 - Comedy Film Nerds

The Comedy Film Nerds are Graham Elwood (@grahamelwood) and Chris Mancini (@myopicprod).  They're comics and filmmakers and they do a podcast that involves both of those things.  Graham and Chris invite a (usually) well known comedian or new media personality and then they discuss movies (new and old), DVD releases, trailers, movie posters and pretty much all things movie.  Since the podcast runs about an hour, they also horse around a little and talk about friends, other stand ups, places they've worked and the state of comedy in general.  Though they aren't always funny (who among us is) they are generally good tempered, quick witted and willing to participate in bad puns, anecdotal meanderings and the occasional sidebar that could take a while to know if it will pay off or not.

There are only about 16 or 17 shows available for download at present so the show is basically new.  Based on that newness and without checking dates (or generally doing some homework) I'd have to say that this show is very much like Jordan, Jesse, GO! coming out of Canada.  JJG has over a hundred shows and Comedy Film Nerds is a near copy except that they discuss movies as a focus and JJG does so only occasionally.  Both shows are hosted by two stand up comics.  Both shows have guests from the stand up community.  Both shows feel very much the same in their conversational style (though you have to get used to the "ahboots" with JJG).  The biggest difference other than the focus is that Comedy Film Nerds is funnier and more entertaining.  I've laughed while listening to CFN but I have not done that with JJG.  And without making this review too much about Jordan, Jesse, GO! (too late) I would say that even if JJG isn't particularly bad, it isn't particularly good either. It's listenable and mild but not really engrossing.  You can listen to it on a drive and it won't draw too much of your attention away from driving, but it isn't so boring that you fall asleep and kill a family on vacation unlucky enough to be in oncoming traffic.

Back to Comedy Film Nerds.  OK, usually the best parts about most comedy podcasts are the guests. This is especially true of CFN.  Though Graham is consistently entertaining and funny, he's better with a funny guest to bounce with.  The show has hosted a fair number of big names in it's short run including; Paul F Tomkins, Doug Benson, Mike Schmidt, Chris Hardwick, David Feldman and Jimmy Dore.  That's a pretty nice list of friends and an impressive list of guests.

While reviewing movies, trailers, directors, and whatever else is connected to moviedom, they recognize no sacred cows which is a little strange given that they are also acclaimed film makers (Oscar nominated I believe as well as Smithsonian recognized).  You'd think that if they had hopes of getting something into production any time soon, they might be a bit more politic about the things they say, but, refreshingly, they are not. Either they don't care who hears it, or they're unaware of how many people DO hear it.  CFN has been, since its first episode, in the top downloads list on iTunes for comedy podcasts.  Some of that is due to the dismal pickings for new comedy podcasts, but also certainly, some of it is due to the show being entertaining.

I only have a couple of gripes about the show at this point in their development.  The first gripe is that it took them so long to figure out that they needed to have a guest.  Without a guest, they are just exactly as boring as Jordan, Jesse, GO! With a guest,.. funny.  Without,.. boring.  With, Funny.  That's a lesson to everybody else.  Know it now so you don't have to stumble on it later. 

But they know it now so let's judge them now.

First gripe and this is admittedly picayune; in every show so far there have been conversational strings or moments that just drag on and on  and on and on before they find a way out.  I feel their pain and understand that sometimes it is hard to recover from a dead end.  I would only suggest that they see it sooner and bail rather than sticking with it until the bitter end we all see coming.  Second gripe; the sound quality was a little poor until they just recently got a sound board  and some better mics in the "world headquarters and garage" studio.  If I was going to do a podcast with more than one person speaking, the first thing I might consider after I found a person to the be the "other", a guest for us to talk to and a place for us to do that, might be a decent sound recording set up including multiple mics, a multichannel board and a way to keep the outside noises,... outside.  Other than that, I have no complaints.  It ain't the funniest thing on pod, but it is worth listening to.  And the line up of guests puts it on my list of weekly "listen-tos".

My Rating Scale
Was I Entertained? Yes, usually.
Am I likely to listen to the next podcast? Yes, probably.
Will I recommend this podcast to a friend? Yes, most likely.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Podiwan Review 14 - Never Not Funny (Pardcast)

Never Not Funny with Jimmy Pardo is, as the title suggests, never not funny, or at least not very often not funny.  Jimmy's podcast has been called the holy grail of podcasts and essential listening for podcasters and civilians alike.  Without offending our brothers in the middle east, Jimmy's show is the Mecca that stand-ups turn to face everyday.

Hmmm,. too much hyperbole? 
OK, so the show isn't going to cure cancer or create world peace.  I don't even think it's the best podcast on the net (though many other people do), but I do like it and here's why.

Jimmy is funny. Usually
Jimmy has great guests who trust and respect him. Mostly
There is such a back log of shows to listen to that you could listen for a long time without running out. Definitely

Here's what I don't like.
If you want to hear the whole show, you have to pay actual money. I know,.. it sucks.  I'm poor and I don't pay for podcasts. I'm just not going to do it. Even if I had money, just on principal I'm not going to pay for pod. And yes, I know that since I only get to hear 24 of the 90 minutes the show usually lasts that I'm missing a lot of show.  Does Jimmy have a right to try and make a living?  Yes.  Does he have a right to monetize his show the way he wants to? Yes.  Does this model suck? Yes. He's right and it sucks.  Both are true.

Hey, Jimmy!  Find a fucking sponsor or twelve.  Don't tell me you can't find somebody to foot the bill for the show because you want to be offensive or use colorful language.  SModcast is sponsored by Fleshlight for god's sake.  Mike Schmidt has some programmer in the UK sponsoring segments of his show and nobody says fuck more than Mike (somebody call Guinness and we'll check).  Enough people listen to Never Not Funny (NNF) that you can support ads.  If Howard Stern taught us anything, he taught us that you cannot offend advertisers.  You mention their names and they get business.  Even if you say shitty things about them.  Even if you mention horrible stuff before and after their ads.  NNF reaches a lot of people.  You can do ads.  Stop with the fucking memberships for listening to the whole show.

Other than that, maybe this show is the holy grail of podcasts.  Every stand-up in the business does this show.  Most people who listen to comedy podcasts listen to Never Not Funny and Pardo is generally regarded as one of the funniest hosts and quickest wits behind a mic. The show is considered a "Must-Listen" on every list of the best podcasts (some people may be copying the lists instead of doing the work, but...)

The Jimmy Pardo style of interview isn't groundbreaking.  It's just comics talking.  Jimmy asks some set up questions but mostly they talk. And yes, Jimmy can talk too much.  It sort of goes with the territory.  He wouldn't be a stand up if he didn't like to talk and tell jokes.  He doesn't often step on his guests but when he does I have felt the urge to reach through my ear buds and put my hand over his mouth until the guest has finished a complete sentence.  Just one complete sentence would be enough.  But Pardo's mind moves at a higher pace than many so I can see that he sees the end of the statement coming and just jumps to it rather than wait the 2 or 3 seconds it'll take to get there naturally.  I do it too. I understand it. But that doesn't make it easier to sit for, but sitting for it is easier than waiting for a slow mouthed guest to finish (I'd step on them, too). In the end, it's a matter of style and that's a style I can live with because I do, every day.

My rating scale

Is this podcast entertaining? - Yes
Am I likely to listen to the next podcast? – As soon as I run out of Nerdist and the Bugle
Do I recommend this podcast to friends? – I have and I will