A new season of Superego has arrived, which is as good an excuse as any to proclaim my love of Superego to the world.
Superego is a podcast I have been thoroughly digging for the past year or two. Assembled by Jeremy Carter, Matt Gourley, Mark McConville, and Jeff Crocker (plus a steady stream of fantastic super-guests), it is one of the funniest things I’ve consumed in many a moon, in any medium.
The show is a series of semi-improvised sketches, framed as “case studies” of some type of personality disorder. The sketches themselves are perfect mix of high production values (like Fireside Chats from FDR that sound just like old radio) and the willingness to leave in fantastic “mistakes,” like the actors breaking up mid-joke or struggling to think up a punny rhyme. They don’t attempt to capture a “universe” per se, the way that The Best Show does at times, and yet Superego still manages to have a cohesive voice and feel, and a penchant for wordplay that is almost British in its exactitude (even when spoofing very American targets like televangelists).
Oh, and Superego is also hilarious. This is the part where I tell you how funny the show is when you’d be much better off just listening to it. Just on the off chance you need some convincing as to Superego’s ear-worthiness.
Superego uses recurring characters, which rank high on my list of comedy bete noirs, since I think they’re often used as crutches or shortcuts to laughs (crutch-cuts?). But Superego’s recurring characters are so well done they pierce my flinty prejudices. Like Shunt McGuppin, a perpetually inebriated country singer with a penchant for singing insanely inappropriate lyrics (“I WAS FIVE TIMES NEKKID!”), occasionally with an unlikely collaborator like Andrew Lloyd Weber or David Bowie.
Or an all-request radio show, Heartlines on the Shore, with an endless series of insane dedications. “If you could play the song ‘I’m All Out of Love’ for Jenny, and if you could do me the great favor of altering the song to say that I am not actually all out of love. Is that something you could do? Is that a service you provide?”
Or one of my favorites a troubled young man, Trevor Lundegard, who labors under the delusion that every movie ever made is Spiderman 2 (or Spidermun 2, as he pronounces it), including Citizen Kane. (“Spidermun 2 owns a newspaper and he’s like, ‘Rose-butter,’ cuz he really likes bread.”)
Supergo also specializes in one-off, pitch-dark sketches, such as an ad for a doll called My Baby Dreamer. The haunting jingle contains ominous lines like “she’s got a dark secret…” and is interrupted by terrifying demonic howling. Or a hearing test recording for children in which competing voices tell the listener not to raise their hands as previously instructed if they know what’s good for them, in slowed-down, horrifying voices.
Did I mention guests? Let’s mention them further! Paul F. Tompkins lends his talents to the show frequently, playing parts like Nathan the Silverback Gorilla (a preternaturally articulate and self-aware primate) and a radio announcer detailing the J.C. Penney’s “End Of Days Sale.” Superego has also featured appearances by Jason Sudeikis, Drew Carey (who called it “modern Firesign Theater,” a high and accurate compliment), Tom Scharpling, Rob Delaney, James Urbaniak, and whole slew of funny luminaries.
How much do I believe in this show? This is my guarantee: Listen to that there episode below. If you do not find something that made you guffaw out loud, write me a detailed reason why you found it unfunny and I will send you something. It might be a book, it might be a piece of string. Who knows? Actually, no one will know, because I am positive I won’t have to make good on this vague promise. And if you do dig Superego, do yourself a favor and purchase the old episodes. Each one is worth every penny.