When it comes to podcasts, starting a show in the middle of its run can be a daunting task. With every episode readily available on the Internet, the temptation to listen to each one tingles like an itch in the center of your back, nagging you until you break down and settle in for hours of listening and half-hearted concentration on your more important priorities.Fortunately for you, fellow podcast fans, this week’s pick is a gutbustingly-funny episode of a gutbustingly-funny podcast that serves as a perfect launch point into the wildly off-the-rails and inappropriate world of 17-year-old high school student Marissa Wompler.
Earwolf’s Womp It Up! is the brainchild of Wompler (Jessica St. Clair) and her teacher Charlotte Listler (Lennon Parham). Each week, they record betwixt and between the stacks of the Marina Del Rey High School library, inviting fellow students, teachers, and odd family members on for conversations that almost immediately devolve into an array of filthy and disturbing declarations and revelations.
This past week, Wompler and Listler took their show on the road to the Largo theater in Los Angeles, kicking off with a confrontation/conversation of sorts with Wompler’s on-again, off-again flame Eric “Gutterballs” Gutterman (Jason Mantzoukas). What begins as an attempt to find out why “Gutterballs” never showed up for a Christmas Eve gift exchange turns into a shocking scatological account of out-of-control body functions.
Let me be the first to say that scatological humor on its face can often come across as crass and unimaginative, but in the hands of such skilled improvisers as St. Clair, Parham, and Mantzoukas, the joke isn’t the gross incident itself, but the absurd circumstances under which it occurred. By the time Wompler’s disgraced podiatrist stepfather, Seth (Brian Huskey), appears to provide more unsettling details, the stunned and horrified reactions of the actors have the audience rolling in the aisles.
From here, a game of improvisatory one-upmanship begins. More guests arrive, including hippie burnout-turned health teacher Joe Bongo (Andy Daly), who brings with him some wildly inaccurate facts about the connection between the eating habits of ants and the male reproductive system. Inappropriately sexual humanities teacher Rhonda DeLuce (Danielle Schneider) extolls the virtues of a Simpsons-branded copy of the Kama Sutra. Condescending drama teacher Dr. Lionel Drioche (Seth Morris) arrives and validates nearly every outrageous claim made by Bongo and DeLuce.
It’s hilarious, but instead of spoiling every funny bit from the episode, I’ll tell you what a tour de force Jessica St. Clair is as Marissa Wompler. She dives headfirst into the role of the over-confident, under-prepared for everything teen. St. Clair screams, groans and wretches her way through a performance that calls to mind two of Gilda Radner’s most beloved SNL characters, the awkward high school nerd Lisa Loopner, and the ultra-exuberant Judy Miller. Jessica St. Clair is a delight.
Suggestions for further listening: Give a listen to Spotlight On: Mike The Janitor, Spotlight On: Eric “Gutterballs” Gutterman, and Spotlight On: Rhonda DeLuce. For more on the history of Wompler and Listler, check out the Comedy Bang! Bang! episode Finger Guns. You can find Womp It Up! on Earwolf.com or your favorite podcast app.
A final warning: I sound like a broken record so far, but keep this show away from young ears and your skittish co-workers!
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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