Penetrating the world of comedy can be a pretty daunting prospect, but podcasts are an excellent place to start. Every week, Molly Thomas will take you through the best the genre has to offer in lady-centric entertainment, with the requisite chutzpah that comes from beginning an article with the word “penetrating.”
I’m a podcast devotee: I’ve been working part-time at libraries for the past year or so while I attend university, and I listen to them while I shelve books. It’s been a magical experience for me. Getting into comedy podcasting is like putting on glasses for the first time: suddenly you can see leaves on trees, or comedians as bit parts on all your favourite shows. It’s also introduced me to a lot of great women that inspire and interest me, which I hope to share with you. And for this inaugural edition, this episode was always really the only choice.
The JV Club, hosted by Janet Varney (who you’ll know from Burning Love and Kroll Show if you’re a comedy nerd, and this article if you’re not), is probably the purest form of female-centric nostalgia that exists in the world today. This show, by Varney’s admission, is about celebrating ladies she loves: every week, she invites a successful woman to discuss her adolescence. The teens are hard for everyone, but it’s nice to hear intelligent, successful women talk about prom, best friends, and boys in the same way you do. The show is refreshingly unselfconscious; Varney says in this episode that she created the podcast to recapture the feeling of being a teenager, and the show has a very sleepover-type energy.
June Diane Raphael (the comedy partner of Happy Endings’ Casey Wilson and one of the hosts of How Did This Get Made?, a podcast about horrible movies) is one of my favourite people in Hollywood. On How Did This Get Made?, her wide-eyed naiveté has led to some of its best moments: from the infamous “spaghetti robot” incident to her uttering with utter sincerity, “What exactly is a street fighter?” Raphael feels like an older sister or a friend from high school: the kind of girl that everyone likes and knows, but isn’t so popular she’s inaccessible.
This episode is delightful. The conversation quickly spins into a very earnest discussion about lip glosses (“not the promised land they make themselves out to be”) and walks us through the degrading audition process in Hollywood before Varney busts out some Anne of Green Gables quotes. One of the best things about this episode is the discussion that follows about loving things: I listen back to June describing her early experiences with Les Miserables and feeling this desire to play things over and over again until they no longer make her feel on a weekly basis. Everyone has one of those formative experiences where a piece of art made us feel almost too much and we had to chip away at it until it no longer consumed us.
The girls then go through Mad Libs-on-high experiences, with an excellent sojourn into Raphael’s body confidence as a younger girl, then take us through slobbery kissers and drama club. The conversation ends up being about Anne of Green Gables, and hearing grown women talk passionately about Megan Follows’ acting is probably the most uplifting thing you can expose yourself to this week.
This episode is like finding a diary of you as a fourteen-year-old: the cultural touchstones and adolescent experiences are pretty universal – John Hughes movies and underage drinking — but it’s so rich and keenly observed by these ladies that it feels more than what it was; more than boredom and confusion and obliviousness, something more akin to transcendence. There have never been enough coming of age stories for teenage girls, and this podcast regularly fills that hole in my heart. It’s like finally coming home.
Molly Thomas is a 20-year-old law student whose major ambitions in life are to serve on the High Court and/or marry Jason Mantzoukas. She is @jerkola everywhere on the internet and a jerk everywhere in real life.