Format: solo comedic monologues, character stuff and occasional "serious" commentary
Frequency: three days a week
Archive available on iTunes: all
An hour and a half of Harland Williams each week: now you either want to hear or you don't. Whether you're a diehard Harl-phile who holds daily screenings of RocketMan
and Sorority Boys
or a distant, occasional observer who regards the guy as the strangest sort of show-biz drifter, your assumptions about the content of The Harland Highway
] are probably correct. It's an unadulterated Monday/Wednesday/Friday 30-minute excursion into the goofiest, most digressive Canadian mind America has ever known.
If you're into comedic podcasting, you might well know Williams best from his appearances on the Adam Carolla podcast
. As divisive as the Ace Man's guests come, Williams liberally sprinkled his visits with non sequiturs
, elaborate put-ons that maybe weren't actually elaborate put-ons at all and — a Williams trademark — uncanny birdcall imitations. Those into comedy more generally probably know him from his countless appearances on Conan O'Brien's show, which I never saw but where he no doubt did much the same thing.
Like fellow comedian Mike Schmidt's The 40-Year-Old Boy
, Williams' is a solo podcast. Though he's demonstrated his ability to establish am amusing rapport with the Carollas and O'Briens of the world, an hour of two of listening reveals that nobody else should — or even could — share Williams' studio on a permanent basis. You might think of the show as The 47-Year-Old Space Boy
. Williams demeanor is at once consumed by its own stream of consciousness and so transcendently goofy-uncle that I can't imagine anyone else keeping up.
After a little exposure to Williams, everyone asks the same question: "Is this dude for real?" The loping, super-modulated diction, the near-manic pursuit of preposterous ideas, the regular dips into sub-vaudevillian gag depths: it's got
to be just an act, right? A skilled actor could certainly sustain the persona over a handful of movies and a regular string of TV sessions, but the frequency, regularity and sheer hours logged on this podcast prove pretty close to dispositively that Harland Williams is indeed, for better or for worse, Harland Williams.
He's really is the Harland Williams who plays both himself and his interview guests, including a flamboyant fellow bent on separating the concepts of "effeminate" and "gay" and a disappointingly herbal tea- and Yahtzee-loving Led Zeppelin. (He does not play his one regular guest, his cousin Kevin Hearn, the keyboardist for the Barenaked Ladies.) The Harland Williams who, every Friday, plays both himself and his lethargically unhelpful employer-mandated therapist, Dr. Ascot. The Harland Williams who assembles shows out of bizarre, unprompted monologues about women who wear flats ("Flat out unsexy!"), snoring sleeping partners and the ants that inhabit his home ("little browns"). The Harland Williams who ends every show with the sign-off, "Chicken chow mein, baby!"
Perhaps weirder even than all this is that, every few episodes, Williams delivers what sounds like an improvised essay of almost shocking sincerity. He did one recently about how he fears that America has grown undisciplined in recent decades and thus lost its way on the world stage. At first, it seems like just another one of his usual gags so broad that is comes all the way back around to specificity. But then you're like, "Wait, he actually means
this," and you feel a tad weirded out. But then
— and I know how wrong this sounds — he actually starts to make some honest-to-goodness sense. Not what you'd expect from a man who was in both Down Periscope
and Freddy Got Fingered
, but it's hard not to respect. He hasn't compromised himself in the least. He definitely hasn't done any focus-grouping.
[Want to hire Podthinker Colin Marshall
to Podthink at your LAN party? colinjmarshall at gmail.]