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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The podcast review: Harmontown

    The podcast review: Harmontown

    The Podcast: Harmontown (harmontown.com)

    The Rundown: Harmontown is kind of like listening to a pathetic and raw therapy session that simply happens to be funny. Every week in the back of a Los Angeles comic book store, the inimitable Dan Harmon, creator of the cult NBC show Community and Comedy Central’s The Sarah Silverman Program, gets on stage in front of 200 people and talks about whatever is on his mind.

    Sometimes it’s his thoughts on getting fired from Community after its third season, sometimes it’s about his relationship with fellow comedian/podcaster Erin McGathy, and sometimes it’s even about getting to the bottom of why the disgraced creator of a television show that got terrible ratings is spending every week wringing out his soul and charging people to see it.

    In other words, Harmontown is one of the most delightfully self-aware podcasts out there, and Harmon’s penchant for hilarious freestyle rapping, drinking too much and pulling audience members onstage just smacks of honesty and human connection.

    If there is a thesis to Harmontown, it is that Dan Harmon believes everyone in the world should be happy and do whatever they want to do. From the back of a comic book store, it can obviously be difficult sometimes to give every person who comes onstage the time of their life, but more so than any other podcast, Harmontown is damned committed to trying.

    The show rarely has an agenda at the outset of each episode, but Harmon’s TV writer instincts provides Harmontown with moments of serialization that make the podcast a blast to listen to from the beginning. Aside from the accumulation of inside jokes and evolution of the Harmon-crew that has happened over the podcast’s 43 episodes, the show’s most intriguing segment is the weekly installment that finds Harmon, McGathy, and Harmon’s co-host Jeff Davis playing Dungeons & Dragons with the help of a bonafide Dungeon Master.

    The DM, Spencer, actually first became a regular on the show during one of the first podcast episodes in which Harmon spontaneously called to the audience for a dungeon master. Since then, Spencer has been a regular fixture of every Harmontown, even going with Harmon, McGathy, and Davis on a 20 date U.S. tour in January of this year that featured excellent development in the group’s ongoing D&D campaign.

    As Harmon himself often notes, at a certain point, Harmontown is a podcast made by nerds for nerds, and anyone with a passing interest in comedy and Dungeons and Dragons should definitely give the podcast a sampling.

    When Should I Listen: By nature, every episode of Harmontown is drastically different from the last, with some episodes running anywhere from an hour to two and a half. Because a good deal of the podcast revolves around Harmon’s discussions of his own life and the audience members’ lives, it makes a good podcast to listen to while driving or doing chores.

    Be warned though, if you have any non-nerds or easily offended roommates, Harmontown can get as raunchy as it can philosophical or life-affirming. Not a podcast for the faint-hearted or undedicated.

    Recommended Episodes:

    Episode 2: The Inception of Girlfriends
    A solid introduction to Harmon’s brand of comedy, courtesy his rapport with girlfriend McGathy subbing in for Harmon’s regular MC Jeff Davis. Topics include Inception and Harmon’s hatred of it, and the questionable presence of happiness between Harmon and McGathy. Great comedy, great relationship advice.

    Episode 18: Sand Pollution: The Journals of Young Morrissey
    Harmon brings his middle school and high school journals out of the closet to self-analyze his present-day neuroses. This episode is certainly more of a psychological Harmontown, the kind of which happens every few episodes when Harmon’s been drinking more than usual.

    However, even with Harmon’s self-described narcissism on full display, this episode contains what might be the quintessential fulfillment of every kind of connection Harmontown stands for.

    In the final minutes of the show, Harmon and Davis bring up an audience member who is having a rough time in life, and Harmon proceeds to stage a preacher-style revival of the guest’s self-confidence, prompting the audience to shout that not only does the audience member deserve happiness, but that they all do. Funny, harrowing and more than a little life-affirming.

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