Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: Totally Laime

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Vital stats:
Format: half-interview, half-goofaround with (primarily) Southern California comedians
Episode duration: 30m-1h
Frequency: weekly

Jen Kirkman. Patton Oswalt. Paul Scheer. Kyle Kinane. Jackie Kashian. Marc Maron. Paul F. Tompkins. These are just some of the names that, in my years of Podthinking, I’ve grown so very weary of typing — but not of hearing the voices that come out of the human beings with whom we associate those names! Despite my near-total ignorance of these comedians’ actual performances on stage and screen, I encounter them all the time through their appearances and productions in the comedy podcast world, which draws like a hopeless addict from the pool of personalities based or often found in Southern California. This familiarity certainly made it easy for me to plunder the archives of Totally Laime [RSS] [iTunes], one of the most Southern California comedian-having podcasts going.

If you want to start a Southern California comedian-having podcast — I’ll resist making up an awful abbreviation, for now — you can play it a few different ways. You might grab a buddy and simply goof around, maybe in segments, with a new Southern California comedian each week — but, let me assure you, you’ll be entering a damned crowded, damned top-of-the-bell-curve field. On the spectrum’s other end, you might bring your Southern California comedians on for straight-up one-on-one interviews — but, let me assure you, you do not want to go up against Marc Maron, the acknowledged master of that subform. A bunch of shows instead split the difference between those two extremes, and Totally Laime hits it just about dead center.

Elizabeth Laime, the program’s host, its namesake, and a young L.A. comedy-doer, shares the cockpit with her boyfriend. Or maybe they’re married; I haven’t quite figured that out yet. (You can help by leaving a comment telling me to “do my homework.”) Whatever their legal status, this couple most definitely likes puppies. They also rent what sounds like an awfully nice house in Silver Lake, since guests call attention to its niceness and Silver-Lakeiness with strange frequency. (I can understand it, though I’m a Koreatown man myself; too few mandu shacks in Silver Lake.) The Southern California comedians drive to Silver Lake — or, sure, already live there — drop by their home, and spend an hour or so discussing their careers, having some laughs, and talking about Oprah.

While by no means a super-segmented show — and, so my Podthinking experience has taught me, wisely not a super-segmented show — Totally Laime wields a secret weapon in the form of its “Oprah game.” Laime and her man ask the Southern California comedian of the week to pick a number between one and however many episodes of Oprah exist, and they they all discuss whatever subject Oprah and her guests did on the episode of Oprah that corresponds to the number. I actually really like this idea, but I can’t begin tell you why. Some Southern California comedians display a startling familiarity with Oprah’s oeuvre, but I guess that falls in line with the vast knowledge of reality and other “people with problems” television with which comics tend to keep surprising me. Did you know there’s even an animal channel now? I think it’s called “Animal Planet”.

Reflecting on it, I think I was slightly disingenuous in claiming such a lack of familiarity with the careers of Totally Laime’s guests. One of my very favorite of the show’s interviews features a certain Mr. Jesse Thorn [MP3], whose work I’d like to think I know quite well indeed. In that conversation, Jesse gets to reminiscing about his undergraduate days at UC Santa Cruz. This prompts Laime to mention her alma mater, UC Santa Barbara. Hey, I’m a Gaucho too! I hereby close this educational loop by reviewing her podcast. Us middle-tier University of California students gotta stick together.

[Podthinker Colin Marshall also happens to host and produce The Marketplace of Ideas [iTunes], a public radio show and podcast dedicated to in-depth cultural conversation. Please hire him for something.]