Podcast Spotlight is a regular feature in which we showcase a podcast and explore what makes it special. Have suggestions for a future installment? Leave them in the comments.
Show: My Brother, My Brother and Me
Debut: April 12, 2010
Number of Episodes: 267
Network: Maximum Fun
There’s a part of me that wishes my favorite podcast wasn’t My Brother, My Brother and Me. That it was something more sophisticated like This American Life or TED Radio Hour. That it was something with a more universal fanbase like Serial or Welcome to Nightvale. But despite myself, the only podcast I consistently listen to weekly as soon as a new episode airs is the one about ghost horses, DIY colonoscopies, and Animorph sex. I am who I am.
My Brother, My Brother and Me is a self-professed “advice show for the modern era,” in which brothers Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy take questions from viewers and “transform them alchemy-like into wisdom,” except unlike other advice shows, the McElroys make sure you know from the start that you should never, ever follow their advice. On a rare occasion they’ll attempt to actually answer the questions at hand, but more often they use them simply as an excuse to mine for the richest, most creative comedy gold out there.
Many of their questions come in emails (or, in the older episodes, Formspring) from fans of the show; others come from Yahoo! Answers, in which case the questions are often comedy setpieces in and of themselves. But no matter how strange the question, the answers will be even stranger. How exactly can’t be easily described, as much of the humor comes from the wild journey to arrive at the bizarre conclusion. MBMBaM fans can fondly remember the likes of Fart Touch, Dunkey, Tit Liquid, and Griffin Space Jam, but it’s nearly impossible to explain what these mean in a sentence or two. It’s simply a show that must be heard to be believed.
Granted, MBMBaM isn’t for everyone. It requires a capacity to appreciate the vulgar, the unpredictable, and the likes of their Totino’s Pizza Rolls-sponsored episode in which the brothers refuse to discuss anything except for Totino’s Pizza Rolls for an hour straight. And yet its strangeness and intense irony isn’t as alienating as, for instance, the continuously baffling Comedy Bang Bang. Ultimately, the show rides on the unspoken undertone that the McElroy brothers live with a mutual understanding, an appreciation of one another stronger than almost any other real-life family. You get the impression that these guys couldn’t possibly connect, let alone click comically, with anyone quite like each other. That’s a beautiful thing to hear every week. That is, underneath all the stuff about Garfield-based sexual fetishes. Trust me.
Primer Episode: “My Brother, My Brother and Me 39: Peepum’s Nastygum”