Pod-Fascination: Topics

Pod-Fascination is a regular column in which I recommend podcasts and specific podcast episodes. Tweet your suggestions to me @robinhardwick.

As a fan of now-legendary comedy troupeThe State, I am always overjoyed to see members of the group still collaborating on projects more than two decades after the group formed. Members of The State are behind such pillars of comedy as Wet Hot American Summer, Reno 911!, Viva Variety, Childrens Hospital, and countless others. Any current successful comedy likely involves at least one alum of The State.

Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter, reuniting after their brilliant-but canceled Comedy Central show Michael & Michael Have Issues, have started a weekly podcast called Topics. Aptly named, the two discuss philosophical and erudite topics such as "Does God Exist," "Power," "Utopia," etc. As expected from these two, the humor comes from farce and satire. Michael Ian Black maintains his persona as a condescending pompous jerk, while Showalter falls easily into the voice of reason. Michael Ian Black has maintained his asshole persona so well, that it is sometimes hard to tell if it really is a persona, especially after some recent Twitter feuds.

The conversations are inane, misguided, and quite frankly ignorant, which is the fun of it. This is not for the typical comedy podcast listener who likes broad characters and elaborate setups. Defenses of Hitler have come up in several episodes, for example. The thing that makes it more layered than other comedy podcast is that the podcast contains a lot of anti-humor, which is acknowledged by the hosts, which makes it even more anti-humor.

The podcast has also included in-between episodes that address listener emails, which only adds to the justification of the hosts' (or the hosts' personas') ignorance. Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black have used this formula in several projects for a while now, but why change when it works so well.

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