This week, we blast those five tell-tale tones and experience the sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Plus, Ricky takes over Studio and asks Rhea and Cameron to devise a new project exploring different ways aliens make first contact with humans. Who will come out ahead and make everybody tons of money? Show notes
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Format: comedy, but mostly left-wing anger
Episode duration: 20m-40m
Frequency: every 3-7 days
Archive available on iTunes: last 10
Some will surely come away from The David Feldman Comedy Podcast [iTunes] [RSS] feeling as if they’ve been sold a bill of false goods. Might I suggest a retitling to The David Feldman Enervated Left-Wing Spitecast? A slightly mean way to open, I realize, but I feel the show pushed me to this point and beyond. I would’ve had the same reaction to chocolate-chip ice cream that called itself “chocolate.” The program most certainly contains comedy; that’s not in doubt. It just contains a lot more enervated left-wing spite.
Feldman’s podcast shares content with his broadcast on Los Angeles’ KPFK, and I’ll get e-mails about how that should’ve been warning enough. I’ve heard plenty of neat shows on that station — why, just yesterday I was listening to something about African electronica — but heated agreement festivals about the endless humiliations of powerlessness and the countless evils of the Republican party run rampant on its schedule. Feldman and his variety of guests tend to cover the same ground. While unlikely ever to conclusively determine if the United Nations should try George W. Bush for war crimes or for a lot of war crimes, they do claim without hesitation the unparalleled presidential suitability of Dennis Kucinich, that “it’s axiomatic that supply-side economics doesn’t work” (a rare misunderstanding of the term “axiomatic” and probably of supply-side economics as well), and that taxing the rich more will obviously right the nation’s woes.
I didn’t mean to go so hard on this show, but it opens an old wound. Were I a conservative, a Republican, or what have you, we could chalk this up to a difference of opinion and move on. But I’m not! I’m just a guy who still resents having been told that the left would offer a thinking man’s sanctuary in the low-I.Q., high-volume arena of American politics — then getting mercilessly hailed with statements like those above. Feldman and his guests are right to criticize the flimsy, buffoonish generalizations and over-reductions spouted by the high-profile right, but must they respond in kind? Fighting fire with fire has a certain ring to it, granted, but allow me to suggest water.
Still, Feldman’s a comedy writer and performer, and he does deliver laughs. His funniest and/or most interesting moments, almost meta-comedy, deal the mechanics of his jokes, the nature of the comedy business, and his own long history in the business. While not an especially sterling example, I did like how he followed a joke about Larry King Live ending “after 50,000... soiled adult diapers” with a consideration of what other humorous things he could’ve gone through 50,000 of on television. One three-way conversation about the nature of sitcom writing versus other comedy writing sticks out as enlightening, and even a few minutes where Feldman and a colleague go one-for-one with their old Reagan jokes (yes, really) definitely didn’t sound like something I’d hear on the garden variety hosted-by-a-22-year-old comedy podcast.
But jeez, it always comes back to the politics. This happens so frequently and so gratingly that I eventually found sweet relief in Feldman’s bursts of bitterness that only have to do with his career-related disappointment. Why do I find the political talk so bothersome, you ask? Why can’t I just ignore it? Maybe it’s the same reason armchair quarterbacking frustrates me. You ain’t playin’ on the team. You sure ain’t coachin’ the team. In fact, you have no way to meaningfully affect the game. It won’t make much difference in your life — your actual, real, everyday life — if your guys win or if the other ones do, so why pretend? Why hasten your heart attack about it? Most armchair quarterbacks don’t have a lot else going on, so you can’t really blame them. But what conclusion to draw about armchair quarterbacks skilled and practiced enough to make you laugh out loud, if only they felt like it?