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.
Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend - Josh Gondelman
Leigh: I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about Josh Gondelman without it mentioning how nice he is. And now, neither will you. That being said— what a nice guy! Or at least he sounds like one on this week’s episode of Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend. So much so, you might think you have two new best friends after listening. Alison and Josh talk about how he got started in comedy, his various writing jobs (including one where that included participating in a Tough Mudder for Wheaties), being a nursery school teacher, and how he got hired at Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. They also cover Josh’s new book You Blew It! and the process of getting that out into the world. You’ll pick up from all the talk about the Emmys this was recorded a few weeks ago, so lucky for us, the book is already available. Later on, in a round of “Just Me Or Everyone,” there’s a quick, but very important, conversation about nose picking and where everyone stands on the issue.
The Seeso Seeshow - SNL
Marc: Podcasts as companion pieces to TV shows, movies, and websites, officially sanctioned or – more likely – unsanctioned, have been all the rage for the past few years. This week the first episode of a “companioncast” dropped for a website which has yet to launch. Andrew Steven, who introduces himself as an amateur explorer, expert coffee drinker, and podcast maker hosts The Seeso Seeshow. Seeso is NBCUniversal’s new ad-free, subscription-based streaming comedy service which is set to launch in January of the new year. But somehow Steven’s pulled the trigger three months early, perhaps as some kind of “teaser campaign” to whet the appetite of comedy fans eager to access materials that may be difficult to access otherwise as well as brand new, original series. In this debut installment, Steven focuses on Saturday Night Live, the entire decades-long series of which will be available via Seeso. He talks about how he came late to SNL as a viewer, only to become a steadfast devotee. And he features various folks sharing their favorite memories of the SNL universe, including former cast member Cheri Oteri reminiscing about how announcer Don Pardo could never get her name right, and a chance meeting with Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, and David Spade in a suburban Chicago bar. It will be interesting to see what other tidbits Steven is able to pry out of Seeso before the doors even open.
Dork Forest - Wil Wheaton
Elizabeth: “Dork luminary” Wil Wheaton joins Jackie Kashian in the Dork Forest this week to share his passion for home brewing. Before diving into beer, Wil recounts his first experiences with Dungeons and Dragons and reveals that he wants to learn soft sword combat, which prompts Jackie to describe an experience doing craft services with Maria Bamford for a LARP. They also chat about board game etiquette and prove that it’s never too late to discuss the end of Breaking Bad. Wil takes Jackie through the entire brewing process from mashing to bottling and talks about designing his own recipes, the intricacies of flavor, and an actually decent gluten-free beer. The show wraps up with some geeking out over Harry Potter, and Wil, who once received a Hogwarts letter at a party, admits to sleeping in Ravenclaw pajamas.
Bad Times, Good Stories - Vacations from Hell - Gilli Nissim
Pablo: Traveling to a foreign country has its difficulties, but you gotta keep them in perspective. For example, when I visited Italy, I found it mildly annoying that Italians from other cities would come up and ask me for directions, not knowing that my swarthy looks hid just another ugly American. For Gilli Nissim, I don’t think “mildly” is the adverb she’d use to describe the multiple times gypsies hocked loogies on her. The well-traveled UCB performer is the perfect guest for Bad Times, Good Stories, as she brings an old-timey sticker-covered suitcase of international embarrassment to this week’s episode. In Israel, she got sent to the hospital after swimming in baby peanut jellyfish infested water. On an airplane to Australia, she found out that baggy granny panties don’t help keep maxi pads in place. And in China, years before getting a nose job, Nissim discovered that Chinese villagers who have never seen white people have absolutely no qualms about yelling “Big nose!” to get a Jewish teen’s attention.
The Space Cave - Wes Campbell (Part 1)
Kaitlynn: Professor Blastoff may have concluded but that doesn’t stop David Huntsberger from delving into planet earth all by himself. As the most inquisitive of the Blastoff trio (and lover of “cool beers”), he can really come into his own with a premise devoted to learning about life, the universe and a bit of everything in between. As The Space Cave just hit month three with its ninth episode, it begins with a recap of the last leg of his tour. In an interactive audience segment David calls Alfonso, a stranger from Twitter, and talks about the dynamics of hip cities and new music. David introduces his guest Dr. Wes Campbell and gets you ready for intelligent conversation while drinking some cool sour beer. When he says intelligent he is telling the truth, you need all ears focused in on the conversation. If you’re into space and science and physics you are going to learn a lot of interesting theories and ideas. Am I necessarily interested in physics? Not particularly, but I learned about doppler shifts and feel that much smarter.
The Nerdist – Bruce Campbell
Marc: Host Chris Hardwick’s enthusiasm seems to run higher than most folks most of the time. But when he gets a first-time guest on his podcast, The Nerdist, that he’s genuinely excited about, the enthusiasm spikes to 11. And it stays pegged there all through his recent interview with actor Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead, Burn Notice, Briscoe County, Jr.) Any nerd worth his or her salt is familiar with Campbell — his exploits starring as chainsaw-for-a-hand Ash in the Evil Dead franchise (including Starz’ new Ash vs The Evil Dead) is the stuff of comic-horror legend. Fan or not, Campbell turns out to be a dream guest. He’s got great stories, from being a fan himself and drooling over the same people HIS fans do – from Stan Lee and Adam West to William Shatner and the late James Garner – to life behind the scenes and on the set of shows like Burn Notice, Xena, and Hercules. He’s a rollicking raconteur, handily snapping out impressions of people like Burt Lancaster, Cary Grant, and the aforementioned Shatner. (His story of having the star of Star Trek and T.J. Hooker teach him how to do the “Shatner Power Slide” – the technique the series star used to brake his car in T.J. Hooker – is fantastic good fun.) Hardwick has such a great time with this guest that he’s hard-pressed to let him go and the repartee continues for several minutes past the official end of the show.
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Bodega Boys - Black Pipes Matter
How To Be Amazing - A.D. Miles
Comedy A-Go-Go - Kevin Lee
You Better DON’T - What Happened to the Pittsburgh Wheelchair Mosher?
The Todd Barry Podcast - Pete Holmes
You Made It Weird - David Wain
Off Camera - Jack Black
I Seem Fun - Wet Kale and Angels
How Did This Get Made - Death Spa Live!
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.