In the increasingly crowded field of comedy podcasts, finally one of the veterans of the well, not just the “alternative” comedy movement (think Janeane Garofalo, Patton Oswalt, Comedy Death Ray), but also comedy in general, has joined the podcast derby. I don’t know if you know Dana Gould by name – he wrote and executive produced The Simpsons for a time, and has been a touring comic of consequence since the late 80s. Long a favorite of the comedy nerd set, Gould has brought some of his dark, twisted appeal to The Data Gould Hour, a new bi-weekly podcast which is actually one of the better put together outfits among comedy podcasts. Obviously there are a lot of awesome podcasts out there, but when you are doing one every two weeks – instead of daily or twice a week, there is some refinement that is expected – and Gould certainly aims in that direction. His first two episodes have featured a large cast with other comics like Eddie Pepitone, Paul Greenberg and a couple I can’t remember. So far, through two episodes – it is a very strong entry into the field – the show is a deft mix of Gould riffing on topics that interest him, and dark vignettes that alternate between hilarious, uncomfortable, and uncomfortably hilarious. A couple of typical examples:
- Gould talks about the Beach Boys as the American competitor to the Beatles and goes over differences, including highlighting their manager/father Murry Wilson, who seems particularly creepy in the stage mom genre. He then plays actual footage of Wilson badgering his son Brian during the recording of “Help Me Rhonda” and you see what a bully creep he is. So then Gouls reads letters Murry wrote to Brian, with a cherry musical backdrop. “you did not just betray your band, but your family …” The bit takes on the tone of the Rodney Dangerfield scenes in Natural Born Killers and it is both funny, and totally messed up.
- A skit where Gould plays a father on the beach and the thoughts going through his head – reflecting on dolphins and then suddenly taking a very strange turn. Also dark, but the buildup is very funny.
But then there is more everyday observation – where Gould and Pepitone speculate on Woody and Soon-Yi and how the meeting between Woody and Mia Farrow must have gone, and then expounding onto their own experiences when you get caught red handed doing something which you legitimately cannot sugarcoat. There is also some fun riffing on the sorts of distraction Martin Luther King might have faced in writing his famous speech. (“I have some STEAM …”) Not all the bits work of course (the story about meeting Paul McCartney does not seem to lead anywhere and the punchline is not worth the wait), but I am grateful Gould is on board. I laughed really hard at some of this, and I don’t do that often.