In comedy, you’re never supposed to explain a joke. The audience either gets it, or they don’t. Explain a joke to an already laughing audience, and it makes it less funny; explain a bombing joke to a silent audience, and you come off as condescending. There’s no way to win if you have to explain the bit.Audible’s Hold On violates that cardinal rule. Every episode, host Eugene Mirman (Bob’s Burgers) invites a different comedian to tell the story behind one of his or her funniest jokes. This may sound like a recipe for disaster, but, removed from the actual stand-up stage, the comedians reveal personal stories that are poignant, self-reflective and often as funny as the jokes themselves.
On the most recent episode, guest Matt Braunger delves into the story behind a hilarious tale about the time he was forced – by law – to live with his parents for 4 months when he was 28-years-old. The original tale itself is hilarious. Braunger is a great storyteller. He delivers every line with a wide-eyed amazement that plays perfectly into his onstage persona of a big, gangly man-child. His sense of wonder is riveting and will keep you at rapt attention. It elevates this story of (spoiler alert) drunk driving gone wrong beyond typical frat-boy fare.
But, Hold On is about the story behind the story. As Mirman hits pause to ask Braunger to go deeper, we learn how the incident affected his relationship with his parents, how a moment of idiocy turned into an opportunity for deeper bonding. What starts off as self-deprecating comedy turns into a wistful tale about getting to know your own parents as adults.
This is Hold On at its best. The candid conversation between these two comedians reveals an emotional weight and allows for moments of self-reflection you don’t always find in a typical stand-up routine. For a few brief moments, we get to see what comedians are like when they’re not trying to work a crowd into waves of uproarious laughter. It’s a welcome peek behind the curtain that you should take every week. Enjoy!
Suggestions for further listening: Open up your favorite pod-catcher and look for “Elna Baker and Dysfunctional Doll Adoption,” “Kurt Braunohler Opens His Relationship Up” and “Just for Laughs Festival: Cameron Esposito.”
A final warning: While the story is touching, Braunger swears a lot. I promise you, one of these days I’ll recommend something safe for work and kids.
Trey Wydysh just wants everyone to love podcasts as much as he does. Like what you’ve read here today? Have a podcast recommendation you think he should check out? You can find Trey on Twitter. Help him find his next podcast obsession!
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