In the nearly one full year that comedy clubs were by and large closed due to the pandemic, local (and formerly local) performers adapted by creating new, streamable content, while others kept their longstanding podcasts going. Here are six programs that have caught our attention since last spring's lockdown.
Former Funniest Five finalist Shain Brenden and fellow comic Seth Allen hang out and shoot the shit about whatever crosses their minds in this podcast, from '90s music to basketball to Portland food carts. There is a butt-based rating element woven into each show—the scale goes from a single cheek-clap to a whole peach—but really, the premise is just an excuse for these two good friends to catch up every week, and maybe learn important facts about each other. Like, for example, that Allen misheard the lyrics to Dave Matthews Band's "Crash Into Me" for years, in a way that made the song infinitely more disturbing. MATTHEW SINGER.
"Blerdy'' is short for "Black" and "nerdy," and Blerdy Talk indeed covers some nerdy subject matter: video games, anime, Star Wars, standup comedy. Of course, such geekery is hardly niche anymore—it's pretty much the dominant culture now—but Chris Johnson and Thomas Lundy bring a casual familiarity to their podcast that makes in-depth discussions of Tekken and open-world gaming appealing even for those of us who haven't picked up a controller since the Dreamcast was discontinued. MS.
Ron Funches is here for you. Every Monday, the Oregon-raised, L.A.-based comic releases a new episode of this podcast, which mixes Funches' goofball humor with candid conversations about mental health. Funches starts each episode by reciting daily affirmations, then launches into surprisingly feel-good conversations about topics like shame and anxiety with fellow comedians, from Maria Bamford to Conan O'Brien. But if you just need someone to tell you you're doing the best you can right now, Funches has you covered—he posts minute long clips of his affirmations on Gettin' Better's Twitter account. SHANNON GORMLEY.
Unnamed Sketch Show Featuring Tory Ward and Wendy Weiss
So far, Tory Ward and Wendy Weiss have only two sketches under their belts, but the quality of these early projects (streaming on Facebook and YouTube) is promising, and a third is already in the works. The two combined their joke-writing skills to start creating scripts for absurdly hilarious vignettes that are more Kids in the Hall in tone than playing-it-safe-for-broadcast SNL. The first features a sight-for-sore-eyes cast of other local comics as terrible job applicants at "Lady Capitalists." The second places our showrunners inside a surreal call center that was inspired by Ward's former employer. And the third is about…cookies? "The premise is, we're having a cheat day and we're going to get together and make cookies, and [Weiss] is like, ''Cause we're cheating on our diet!' And I'm like, ''Cause we're cheating on our husbands!' So we have very different expectations about what's going to happen, and then it gets really weird." ANDI PREWITT.
What Is Stuff
What happens when two former Funniest Five comics, who also happen to be roommates, end up stuck in their house for the better part of a year? It might sound like the beginning of a very corny sitcom specifically tailored to viewers held hostage by the pandemic, but this podcast is anything but schlock. Jake Silberman and Hunter Donaldson regularly performed onstage together pre-COVID, and they are clearly still having fun riffing off of one another here. Many of the episodes tackle the chaotic political climate, but rather than provide clarity, they run their topics through a blender. The show also makes time for personal anecdotes—a recent one still saw Silberman performing in oddball locations. Let's just say, he never expected to end up telling jokes to a room full of maskless assholes in the storage attic of a Salem tchotchke shop. AP.
What's More Metal
Launched three years ago by another pair of Funniest Five honorees, What's More Metal examines a random topic every week by having the two hosts, Dan Weber and Nariko Ott, suggest the most "metal" aspect of their subject matter. In a late January episode, that meant coming up with hardcore uses for corpses (Ott: crash test dummies; Weber: cadavers repurposed as medicine). What could be more metal than the actual program? Perhaps the listeners' reviews: "The best podcast to listen to while intentionally harming yourself just to feel something during quarantine." AP.