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.
Don’t Ever Change - Sean Donnelly
Leigh: This week on Don’t Ever Change host John Roy sits down with Sean Donnelly (who also has a new Comedy Central Half Hour you should definitely watch), to talk about growing up as a not so great skateboarder on Long Island. As always on Don’t Ever Change, we’re reminded of the nonstop uncomfortable feelings we felt in high school and how lucky we are that it’s over. Donnelly shares a heartbreaking story about one time when he called a girl to tell her he got a haircut, another not heartbreaking one about sneaking out of the house to make out with a girl, the first times he remembers really making people laugh, and that very relatable feeling of being in high school and thinking everything was lame. Roy and Donnelly also make the excellent (albeit, a little depressing) point about how exciting it is to get to constantly do new things for the first time in high school. As an adult, the newness is over, you’ve done all the things, it’s harder to get excited. Still, I don’t think anyone would want to relive their high school days. Luckily, we can relive it through funnier people.
The Black List Table Reads – Three Months
Marc: What an amazing, versatile medium podcasting is! Where else are you going to hear hot, not-yet-produced feature films as read by a talented cast of Hollywood actors? The Black List Table Reads, the brainchild of Franklin Leonard, and the offshoot of his Black List website (from whence the original material is harvested) kicked off its second season this week. The first “ear movie” in the new crop is called Three Months, a darkly comic coming-of-age movie about the touchy topic of a young gay man sweating out the 90 days he has to wait to be tested for AIDS after an irresponsible encounter. Written by Jared Frieder and performed by a talented cast which includes Mindy Sterling, Ritesh Rajan, Jee Young Han, Phillip Casnoff, Frances Fisher, and a number of others, the listener is carried through the main character’s journey not just by dialogue but with descriptive narrative, sound effects, and even original music that helps to both set the mood but also bridge time spans between certain scenes. Playing a person who is changed by the events in one’s life is hard enough on film, where you have visual cues to help the audience, so it’s quite a triumph for the actor playing the main character in Three Months when we can HEAR that transition happen gradually through the arc of the story. This isn’t your typical podcast in many ways, not the least of which is a running time of over two hours. (It runs longer than a visual movie would, due to the fact the narrator has to set many of the scenes, describe character reactions, etc., things which normally occur on film in seconds.) Many of the screenplays featured on the Black List website have gone on to become award-winning films. It remains to be seen if Hollywood will just as eagerly snap up these new properties now that they’re being given the opportunity to listen to them.
Views from the Vista - Spotlight w/ Sela Shiloni
Pablo: I’m a little biased because my brother and I both worked there in high school, but The Vista is the best movie theater in Los Angeles. Coming up on its 100th anniversary, The Vista has had many lives, from a classy vaudeville venue to a rundown gay porn theater to its current incarnation as a restored single-screen gem with a Spanish facade and Egyptian interior. So I’m very pleased to see a new movie podcast hosted by comedians Steve Hernandez, Zed Cutsinger, and Honor Nezzo where they review every week’s showing at The Vista or its sister theater, the Los Feliz 3. This week, it’s the fun-filled laugh riot of the year, Spotlight, a film about the Boston Globe’s expose of the Boston Catholic Church’s child sexual abuse cover-up. Is it a modern day All The President’s Men or just another well-made but ultimately forgotten piece of Oscar bait? You’ll have to listen to find out. And even though the topics include Woody Allen marrying his daughter, Chris Dorner, and #CandidFeet on Instagram, the episode is a lot funnier than you’d think due to the chemistry of its hosts.
Pop My Culture - Rob Huebel
Elizabeth: All roads lead to Adele this week on Pop My Culture. Rob Huebel stops by to chat about the British songstress (and a few other things), from how crazy good she is to whether “Hello” could be used as a sex song. (Conclusion: Yes, but only for breakup or sad solo sex). Rob also tells Cole and Vanessa about his encounters with Daniel Craig and Tom Cruise, including cockblocking his wife from the former and hanging out on set with the latter. Rob and Cole reminisce about sketch comedy in the early aughts and Rob talks about the magical vibe on the set of Transparent. The “Firsts” segment this week is about life-changing documentaries and everyone shares their favorite Netflix docs. Finally Vanessa quizzes Rob on what he would look for as a judge on Shark Tank, who would win in a three-day cave fight between Gaby Hoffman and Jeffrey Tambor, and makes him choose between getting a Draft Kings neck tattoo or eating the chocolate off a pound of peanut M&Ms every day for the rest of his life.
The Reigning Lunatic – Royal Episode the Second: To The Wall!
Marc: Edging out even further on the spectrum of what comprises a podcast comes The Reigning Lunatic, an ongoing series charting the troubled kingdom under the reign on the Lunatic, a crazed king who hasn’t got a clue. It resembles a sitcom more than anything, with a rambling “A” storyline that’s shot through with some side stories, crazy characters popping in and out and, through it all, a kingdom that seems on the edge of either overthrow or self-immolation. The current episode features the King heading in his royal coach for the wall that surrounds his domain to take stock of a rumored threatening dragon, stopping along the way to poll his constituents about the state of the kingdom. He’s immediately distracted by a comely lass, but reminded that there’s a Queen back at the castle, it’s soon back on task for the tangent-ridden King. The series comes from Geoffrey Welchman, who formerly had a podcast entitled The Infinite Delirium, which was a collection of audio sketches often featuring the voices of other podcasters. The tone of The Reigning Lunatic is a mix of The Lord of the Rings and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, with more emphasis on the latter than the former.
Nerdist - Daniel Radcliffe
Kaitlynn: Harry Potter himself is the guest on Chris Hardwick’s star-studded Nerdist podcast. Right from the start Daniel compliments Chris on the success of @midnight and how it made him appreciate people who unapologetically like the Potter films. He appreciates a show that finds the good in the internet and the friendly competition. Tables have turned as Chris is usually the one who gushes over a guest he respects. These two are real life pals as Chris spoke when Radcliffe got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Talk turns to upcoming films, Chappie, and egotistical actors. The laughs really start coming when Matt Mira joins and points out Chris’ fiancée is from a billionaire family. Yes it’s true, and even Daniel blurt laughs. But the conversation doesn’t end there; can Batman versus Bond be a real film? The war of immaculate tuxedos between the world’s greatest spy and the world’s greatest detective! Someone get that made. It’s nice to hear so many Harry Potter references from the man himself, any fan of the films will love to hear the insight of this young actor as he takes on bigger and more dynamic roles.
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
The Todd Barry Podcast - Judd Apatow
WTF with Marc Maron - Gloria Steinem/Kliph Nesteroff
How to Be a Person - Travon Free: How to Talk to Famous People
How Did This Get Made - Hackers
Bitch Sesh - Life’s a Pitch
Wooden Overcoats - The Trial of Rudyard
The New Hollywood Podcast - Rob Huebel
improv4humans - Grudge Justice
The Poundcast - Pound House Podcast
High and Mighty - Power Hour LIVE at UCB Sunset
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.