The “wheel of time” is a tenet of Hinduism and Buddhism, referring to the belief that history is cyclical, with different ages endlessly repeating themselves. The podcast exists as some evidence of this concept, at least on an entertainment consumption level. Rather implausibly, the podcast has resurrected radio. Not the actual airwaves medium, but the type of scripted audio-only programming that once dominated American households before TV came along and rendered it instantly archaic. The context has changed, of course. Now we have iPods and the like to bring our audiotainment wherever we please — at home, in the car, at the gym, in the park, on the plane, etc. It has opened a world of possibilities. You can listen to MP3s of the old Orson Welles The Shadow radio plays while using the StairMaster. It was only a matter of time before people started making new material in this same vein, and comedians have attacked the new medium like wild dogs. The alternative and fringe comedy community is finding a nice home in the podcast world, freed up from network execs worrying about what kind of giggles “the normals” want to ingest.
This brings me to former Mr. Show writer Eric Von Hoffman’s Brainwarp: The Baby Eater, a new comedy podcast from Feral Audio in 6 chapters. Based on Hoffman’s stage show, which was named “Best Late-Late-Night Theatre Show of the Year” by Newcity Chicago, the part serial, part sketch show podcast follows the world’s dumbest super-villain, the titular Brainwarp the Baby Eater, as he goes on a crime spree to pay his rent and must evade crime-fighters from various genres. One of the great things about podcasts is how easily they are to put together compared with a film or TV show, which allows Hoffman to utilize his comedy pals in a way that would be harder to pull-off elsewhere. Bob Odenkirk (Mr. Show, Breaking Bad) plays the dark pulp hero THE PIPE (as well as a depressive gold hawker). Matt Walsh (Veep, UCB cofounder) plays the rage-filled CAPT. LUNATIC (a character he played on the UCB television series). Matt Besser (Walk Hard, UCB cofounder) plays BRAINWARP’S BOSS at his part-time job. Mike Monterastelli (CHUD.Com) plays the “Clint Eastwood on acid” cop, PINKY SKINK. And Hoffman himself plays the incompetent BRAINWARP. Each episode also features two alternative musical guests, like Liam Lynch (Tenacious D: Pick of Destiny, Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic), Family, Mars Argo, and The Fancy.
And you read that correctly. CHUD’s own Michael Monterastelli (Collecting VHS) appears on the show, which is how the series came to my attention. The first three episodes are already available on Feral Audio and iTunes, and the final three episodes will be available in early 2013. So give ‘er a listen and support fringe comedy. And the CHUD community!