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.
WTF with Marc Maron - Jenny Slate
Leigh: This week’s episode of WTF with Marc Maron is so good, I’m still coming down from a contact high, which can only be attributed to Jenny Slate’s incredibly delightful energy. On top of that she’s got the most hilarious and refreshing perspective on things. Take aging, for instance. I don’t think you’ll hear too many people talk about how they look forward to the day their hair is 100 feet long and their skin is like bark. If you’ve ever read or heard any interview with Slate, it seems like it’s not only mandatory for the interviewer to bring up her departure from SNL, but also make a joke about how she must get asked about it all the time. And, you can usually see the question coming from a mile away. This time, however, when the topic of her time at SNL comes up so naturally it’s the story of how she got hired that she shares. It’s a very moving story and Slate even gets a little emotional. As a listener, I dare you to not get overwhelmed with feelings. It’s great to hear Maron and Slate talk about people she admired growing up, like Ruth Gordon, Madeline Kahn, Gilda Radner, and Laraine Newman, who she describes as “women that have a cool style and can’t be replaced.” After her success with Obvious Child, Marcel the Shell, and the fact that she’s on just about every TV show right now, it’s safe to say Slate herself is most definitely a woman with a cool style who can’t be replaced. Maron sums it up best at the end of the episode: “How can you not love her?”
Judge John Hodgman - I Pledge a Grievance to the Flag
Pablo: This week’s case before the Honorable Judge John Hodgman is, at first glance (with your ears), an easy win for the defendant. Plaintiff Christian wants his wife Corrin to let him raise a flag outside their newly-bought home proclaiming his love of Alabama football. Corrin, on the other hand, thinks having the interior of their house decked out in Crimson Tide memorabilia is more than enough to placate the dark lord Nick Saban. Because of Hodgman’s disdain for sports, you’d think the judge would swiftly rule in Corrin’s favor. But in a surprise decision, he rules that the couple must raise their ‘Bama flag on gamedays… as well as a Toronto Argonauts flag with the most Canadian rallying cry ever: “Pull together!” That still doesn’t make it any less tacky… and I say this as someone who has a pair of authentic Dodger Stadium seats gathering cobwebs in my backyard.
Never Not Funny - Nick Kroll
Elizabeth: Jimmy Pardo covers all the hot topics this week on Never Not Funny, including Serial, Charles C. Johnson, and Eaten Alive—the Discovery special, not as guest Nick Kroll guessed a reunion of the cast of the J. Lo movie Anaconda or the Nikki Minaj video. Nick talks about his decision to end Kroll Show after three seasons and his childhood love of the Mets. Jimmy admits that he’s never actually seen the show, but Nick isn’t offended, saying that he doesn’t watch or listen to a lot of things his friends make. (Like Mulaney?) Kroll doesn’t expect people to watch his show and thinks it would be better if people were just honest about it. So in the new year, let’s all just be honest about the fact that we don’t watch our friends’ web series or listen to their podcasts.
No Pressure To Be Funny - Festive Edition 2014
Marc: I don’t pretend to understand all the issues that are discussed on No Pressure To Be Funny, the excellent monthly panel show from England. That’s partially because a number of the subjects are UK-centric and partially because I’m not as well read as I should be. Each month the show’s creators Alistair Barrie and Nick Revell stir a pot of lively discussions featuring journalists and comedians. (This month it’s Hal Cruttenden, Michael Deacon, Jo Jo Smith and first-timer James O’Brien, who normally serves as the host for the show.) While the results are frequently humorous, the show stays true to its title and not everything is played for laughs. The panel has a field day knocking Russell Brand and his style of comedy around for a bit. At one point Deacon points out how actual numbers make ludicrous one of Brand’s points in his recent book Revolution, which prompts Cruttenden to say, “You are ruining the poetry with facts.” A lot of this episode keeps poking at continuing UKIP (United Kingdom Independent Party) scandals, which are making easy targets of a host of politicians. Series co-creator and comedian Revell fires up a wicked salvo against the lazy, self-entitled nouveau riche and how they compare so poorly to everyone else during this season of giving. (I love his line: “I’ve acquired ADHD from living in the modern world, although I prefer to call it ‘multitasking.’”) If you’re not afraid to learn a little something along with your comedy, you’re likely going to enjoy this show.
You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes - Dana Carvey
Marc: Pete Holmes is no stranger to “going deep” with some of the guests on You Made It Weird. And it’s a treat to hear his conversation with SNL veteran Dana Carvey, a comedic performer that we don’t hear from very often or know very much about what makes him tick. In a conversation that verges on three hours, Carvey lets his guard down a bit to reveal elements of a difficult home life, fighting stage fright to get up on stage, and details of his health problems including a botched bypass that were never fully revealed. Maybe the secret was that Carvey was just off a 13-hour road trip and Holmes had just finished an appointment with his shrink. (Carvey told me in a conversation shortly after this interview was recorded that he didn’t know what to expect and he just decided to go wherever the conversation ended up going.) If you’ve ever wondered what’s behind the man behind The Church Lady (one of many Carvey characters that gets talked about here), this is going to be a good listen.
Nerdist - Lisa Kudrow
Zoe: Lisa Kudrow is so goddamn awesome I don’t know what to do about it. This week she swings by Nerdist to talk about it all: The Comeback, her Second City beginnings, life as a Friends star, and whether or not Twitter is like screaming in a car except everyone can hear you. Hearing her jump from Friends in one breath to Web Therapy in the next, it’s apparent how effortlessly Kudrow has made the ever-changing entertainment landscape work for her. If you’ve been watching the second season of The Comeback, you’ll have some moments where momentarily, perhaps during a laugh or an “Oh dear,” you might think you’re listening to Valerie Cherish recording a podcast (now that I think about it, I hope we see that one day). But then it’s followed up with an acutely insightful comment on human nature, and it reminds you of how intelligent someone has to be to play her characters with the nuance and vulnerability that Kudrow does. Hardwick mentions that he loves characters with a balance of self-centeredness and good intentions, and she adds, “Well, [Valerie’s] good intentions are mostly for herself to get back in the spotlight.” And finally—not to get your hopes up—Hardwick announces a movement to get a sequel to Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. For all of our sakes, let’s hope he’s not kidding.
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Desus vs. Mero - Don Lemon Party
The Poundcast - Moshe, Natasha, Brent
The Adventure Zone - Here There Be Gerblins
Selected Shorts - Bad Boy: Celebrating Hunter S. Thompson
Hollywood Handbook - Thomas Middleditch, Our Close Friend
Nerdist Writer’s Panel - Year in Review
U Talkin’ U2 to Me? - Holiday Special
Topics - Unknown
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Zoe Schwab is a writer/fraud living in NYC who is somehow up-to-date with ABC Family’s Melissa & Joey.
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.