Comedy nerds rejoice! A brand new podcast hosted by Vulture.com senior editor Jesse David Fox is going to a place so specific, so deep, that you are guaranteed to hear things you’ve never heard before. Fox’s new limited series podcast “Good One: A Podcast About Jokes” will examine one joke per episode, with the comedians who wrote them. Episode one, with Jim Gaffigan is available now.
Listening to “Good One” you will go way inside the joke, listening to origin stories about one specific joke chosen by the comedian guest. From there, the conversation will go in different directions with each artist– but the kinds of things you will hear about include where the idea came from, how it evolved, how long it took to write, what the joke means to the comic who wrote it, and why certain words were selected over others.
Jesse says he chose this topic because he loves comedy– he has been following comedy his entire life, and writing for Vulture for about five years– and when he was looking to start a podcast, he wanted to get away from the generalized format of a couple of guys talking. He’s always been curious about the details, and so a podcast following the evolution of a joke was a perfect choice.
“I’ve looked in the cadaver of comedy probably more than most people,” he told me in a phone interview. “I still can go to shows and laugh. And I can see a sketch for like, ‘Oh, that’s the first beat and that’s the escalation, blah, blah, blah, blah.'” Fox believes that the better informed you are about the way comedy works, the better you are as an audience. “There’s no art form where that hasn’t been the case and I can’t imagine comedy…. Comedy is the lone holdout to being broken down this way, and partly it’s just like a better audience who knows how these things work is going to be better for everybody. They’ll enjoy it more and the comedians can be a little more interesting.”
In episode one, out today, Jesse talks with Jim Gaffigan about a joke from his new special about how newscasters are so good looking. “Gaffigan is a person who really, really works on his stuff. In the first episode, he picked a joke…that I was fascinated by a lot of the very particular wordings of it, and I could tell that literally no one has ever asked him about it.” Jim, he said, is known for a certain type of observational comedy, so Jesse was curious about why use this more political joke. In the podcast, they discuss that, as well as the actual construction of the joke. “There’s a reason why he said ‘Cable News’. There’s a reason why he keeps on saying the word ‘sad,’ in it. I think he’s aware that that alludes to the President we currently have. We just talked about him trying to figure out what his relationship to doing political comedy, which is not his style comedy. He’s very much like the comedian you are…. is the type of comedian you are. So, how does he push that a little bit?”
Nine more episodes will follow with other great artists like Neal Brennan, who he has already recorded, and he has plans to sit down with Kristen Schaal, Jen Kirkman, Kyle Kinane, Paul Feig, Weird Al Yankovic, and others.
Each episode starts with the joke that is going to be the center of the episode. “We play in a joke at the beginning, so you just have the context as to why we’re talking about the thing. So you get that good laugh at the beginning, so you go, ‘Oh, it’s funny.’ You’re listening to the Neil Brennan clip, we listen to it when we start and we’re both laughing. We’re like, ‘It is a funny, stupid scene,’ but it is allowing kind of you to start from a very small thing and then expand upon it.”
The podcast follows on the heels of Vulture’s new post, “100 More Jokes That Shaped Comedy,” which itself follows up on a 2016 article, “The 100 Jokes That Inspired Modern Comedy,” the site’s No. 1 story of last year by time spent reading. If you’re a comedy nerd, or even a comedy fan, you’ll want to set aside some time to browse through the new piece which includes jokes from television, film, movies, literature and stand up. It’s practically a history of comedy, told through the evolution of the joke throughout time from 1847’s Why did the chicken cross the road? through a 2015 Broad City joke. It’s a phenomenal read.
‘Good One: A Podcast About Jokes’ debuts today, Monday February 13. Listeners can access Good One on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, and major podcast apps, as well as vulture.com.