Twelve presumably high comedians walk into a bar… That was basically where what I’m calling the best holiday podcast of 2013 started out. The fourth annual 12 Guests of Xmas podcast, put on by cinema maven Doug Benson, was a grab bag of elite podcasters and comedians, two of which I’ve interviewed.

12 guests of xmas 2013 john hamm

Josh Malina, Kevin Pollak, Samm Levine, Jon Hamm & Graham Elwood (photo courtesy of

In 2010, Benson launched his holiday review, wherein guests play the “Leonard Maltin Game,” a trivia round robin, where contestants skirt the line between luck and cinema minutiae acumen to eliminate their opponents.

If you’re familiar with Benson’s three-man line up, you can imagine what an undertaking wrangling a dozen (13 this year), attention whores (in a good way), for nearly three hours must be.

Scott Aukerman, Jon Hamm (pictured), Rich Sommer, Chris Hardwick, Greg Proops, Kevin Pollack (pictured), Kate Micucci, Samm Levine (pictured), Josh Malina (pictured), Alison Haislip, Jimmy Pardo’s Pardcast-A-Thon auction winner, Sean Sakimae, and two-year title holder of the 12 Guests of Christmas, Graham Elwood, all took turns passing around three microphones. It was a beautiful mess.

Graham Elwood brought his A-Game yet again, and talked ALOT. Scott Aukerman, the first winner of the 12 Guests of Xmas, also had a strong showing, but was thwarted by “work” emails throughout the show. Greg Proops was on point as well. But the comedy medal went to Chris Hardwick this year. As a Nerdist fan, I forget how that guy can turn it on in front of a crowd.

The most surprising performance came from Pardcast-A-Thon auction winner, Sean Sakimae. I won’t spoil, but this guy quietly dominates the game.

We say goodbye to some guests too soon of course, and a few lesser voices get lost in the fray, but overall, it’s a hilarious two-plus hours of skilled comedians riffing and bruising egos.