The comedy podcast universe is ever expanding, not unlike the universe universe. We’re here to make it a bit smaller, a bit more manageable. There are a lot of great shows and each has a lot of great episodes, so we want to highlight the exceptional, the noteworthy. Each week our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists and especially enthusiastic people will pick their favorites. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy.
Pauly Shore’s Interested - The Robin Williams Tribute
Pablo: Right off the bat, Pauly Shore’s Interested is not what you’d expect from the ‘90s stoner icon. I’m not saying I assumed this podcast would be something akin to his MTV VJ days, but I also didn’t expect interview clips to fade in-and-out to soft acoustic guitar like your average public radio show. The superb production values give what I’m calling This American Weasel a more serious tone than Shore fans are used to but it works given the somber topic on hand: the suicide of Robin Williams. Shore’s two guests are Ed Begley, Jr., who performed standup at the Shore family’s Comedy Store before focusing on acting, and comedian Rick Overton, who was Williams’s best friend. Both open up their minds and hearts to discuss the late legend’s love of bike riding and performing for the troops, his partying heyday in the ‘80s, and the possibility that the rapid-fire voices in Williams’s head that gave him his signature style could have turned on him in his final months. Overton also dishearteningly notes that in Robin’s last weeks, their communication dwindled and his texts kept getting shorter. With such a promising start, I highly recommend subscribing to Interested, especially with guests Chris Rock, Paul Rodriguez, Arsenio Hall, and Marc Maron on the horizon.
You Made it Weird - Cameron Esposito
Scott: If you thought Cameron Esposito (Conan, Late Late Show) was going to be on YMIW and she and Pete Holmes weren’t going to spend nearly two hours talking about gender and sexuality in very weird and specific terms, welcome to your first time listening to the show! They wade deep into the morass and find their way out by having had a real, frank, and open conversation about lesbian sex, coming out to Catholic parents, and how comedy can help people find themselves. Prepare to hear their different points of view on period sex, be horrified about the guy that threatened Esposito after a show, and marvel at the story of how she became a party girl in college for the sole purpose of avoiding sex with men. This conversation was at once fun, eye-opening, deep, and light. And after all of that, they still had enough stamina to get deep on Catholicism, Esposito’s flirtations with a life in the Church and subsequent disillusionment, and what it was like to witness her grandmother dying. If you take only one thing from this podcast, let it be this: anyone who thinks Cameron Esposito reminds them of Ellen isn’t paying attention.
The Adventures of Danny and Mike - Summer History Trip with Ben Kissel
Leigh: You ever wonder if characters on your favorite TV shows are friends in real life? What about if they’re going stay friends for years and years and one day start a podcast? Ever think about that? Well, lucky for you, that’s what The Adventures of Danny and Mike is. That’s Danny Tamborelli and Michael C. Maronna, or as you probably remember them, Pete and Pete from the Nickelodeon ‘90s classic The Adventures of Pete and Pete. Every month, as you can guess from the title, Danny and Mike go on an adventure, then invite a guest over to talk about it. This month, it’s President Washington’s quarters (which may or may not be code for a sexual act involving sitting on a toilet and taking out your wooden teeth) and Jockey Hollow in Morristown, New Jersey. They’re joined by comedian Ben Kissel and only non-redhead of the group, producer Jeremy Balon. They bring up a lot of important issues that we’ve all forgotten about. Like, what were the jerks at video stores busy doing that they couldn’t take the time to rewind the tapes? And how many soldiers during the Revolutionary War needed housing that it warranted its own amendment? If you hoped you’d hear 90’s pop culture talk, calm down. They throw some of that in too. Like little Pete’s tattoo Pentunia tattoo and the time Tamborelli got paid to rollerblade through The Mall of America for The Mighty Ducks. Also, pay attention for a quick Danny Cooksey reference. If you’re already barely able to contain your excitement over this episode, you probably already know who that is (for the rest of you, that’s Budnick from Salute Your Shorts).
Nerdist - Kevin Smith
Rob: Kevin Smith is verbose, and his podcast is not everyone’s cup of tea. But like Nerdist host and now Nerdist Industries CEO (that still seems weird) Chris Hardwick, Smith has built a single podcast into his own micro-multimedia empire over the past decade. With that in common, and Smith’s movie Tusk coming out this weekend – which was actually conceived on an episode of Smith’s Smodcast last year – the two have a lot to talk about… whenever Hardwick can get a word in edgewise. Their chat is funny, but it’s definitely a lot of nerding out on how podcasting, social media, and new ways of thinking about niche audiences has changed what’s possible for creative individuals. Smith is full of encouragement and advice for anyone aspiring to get an original idea off the ground, no matter how weird or seemingly dumb, as he has been on almost every recording he’s done since Tusk’s premiere. But it’s the specifics about how each thinks the Internet and podcasting has changed how any independent producer or comedian can develop and eventually find an audience – between two people who actually rode the podcast boom into successful careers within and outside of that world – that’s incredibly interesting and definitely worth a listen.
Greg Proops Film Club - The Man Who Would Be King
Marc: Most podcastees, if they know Greg Proops, know him as the host of The Smartest Man In The World. (Many also know him as a longtime cast member of TV’s Whose Line Is It Anyway.) Since the beginning of this year, though, he’s been pulling double duty. The Greg Proops Film Club is a monthly show, a sort of film companion if you will, featuring Proops in front of a live audience that has gathered to watch one of his favorite movies. The latest edition bookends a showing of The Man Who Would Be King, featuring Sean Connery and Michael Caine from 1975. This is no dry dissertation, however but instead finds the host reeling off anecdotes about the production (rumor had it, for instance, that Humprey Bogart was slated to star in the movie a decade or more earlier but passed and the project lay dormant for years), memories about watching it for the first time as a teenager at a drive-in theater, and expounding on precisely why the movie holds so much cinematic goodness for him. In much the same style as Smartest Man, Proops brings his engaging, rapid-fire intellect to the party, keeping the audience in stitches as he prepares them for a delectable silver screen experience. The show fades off as the movie begins and then fades back in as the film ends, leaving Proops to wrap up with a few more pithy remarks before sending the crowd, as he puts it, “off into this good night.”
The Daily Show Podcast Without Jon Stewart - Michael Che, Travon Free, and Jo Miller
Zoe: To all you white supremacists who have yet to discover social media, newly minted SNL Weekend Update correspondent Michael Che offers you these words of inspiration: “[It’s] a very exciting time for racists. There are a lot of different ways you can be racist. So all you racists sitting at home twiddling your thumbs, angry at your TV, get motivated!” The tongue-in-cheek comment comes after a discussion of racist Twitter trollers, the types who follow thousands of other people despite only having 20 followers themselves, spending hours upon hours crafting cartoonishly offensive comments, but apparently no time on, you know, basic logic. For about half of the episode, Che and Daily Show writers Travon Free and Jo Miller explore race as it relates to their work. The second half focuses on Che’s and Free’s personal experiences with racial profiling, whether it’s with police or the doormen of their own apartment buildings. For people who usually don’t have to think about racial profiling (AKA white people), the conversation might sound surprisingly casual. For people whose race makes them the target of racial profiling, it might sound unsurprisingly familiar. Whoever you are, this episode is a clear reminder of how much better off everyone is when shows hire funny, talented people who can accurately speak to non-majority perspectives based on experience, not speculation. High fives, cut to commersh.
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
U Talkin’ U2 To Me? - Songs of Innocence
Industry Standard - Russell Peters
Nerdist Writers Panel - Simon Barrett
We Know Nothing - Starry Night
WTF - Kathy Griffin
My Sexy Podcast - Liza Treyger - Return of the Rash
StartUp Podcast - How To Divide An Imaginary Pie
Never Not Funny - Ben Gleib
Harmontown - LIVE From The XOXO Festival 2014 in Portland
Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Rob Schoon lives in Brooklyn and writes about tech, media, comedy and culture.
Zoe Schwab is a writer/fraud living in NYC who is somehow up-to-date with ABC Family’s Melissa & Joey.
Scott Reynolds is a comedian and writer in Brooklyn, NY.