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.
The Mysterious Secrets of Uncle Bertie’s Botanarium - Cheese Dreams in Gravy Isles
Kaitlynn: Fair warning: this podcast is available exclusively through Howl premium, a subscription listening platform. New subscribers are invited to try Howl using the promo code BERTIE when signing up at howl.fm.
Press play and step inside an 18th century alternative universe. The Mysterious Secrets of Uncle Bertie’s Botanarium is the fictional account of a sea voyage (and an extremely parallel universe) while referencing the real life Joseph Banks, a British botanist who journeyed to New Zealand in the 1700s. Like radio plays of history, the story is told through twelve episodes (season two is already being planned). It’s created, written, and performed by an ensemble of creatives from Wellington, New Zealand. Rich sound effects and an original score easily creates this audio adventure that is part fantasy, part sublime and a whole lot of ridiculous. Jemaine Clement, actor, comedian and instrumentalist from Flight of the Conchords fame, plays Lord Joseph Banks (nephew of infamous botanist Bertie Banks) in search of the pleasure plant aptly named “Heaven’s Clover.” Episode one introduces us to Lord Banks through an encounter with a cheesemonger, resulting in him and his servant (played by Lawrence Arabia who composes the show’s music) to embark on a grand adventure to find the source of pleasure.
I Am Rapaport Stereo Podcast - #137
Marc: Actor Michael Rapaport (Zebrahead, Mighty Aphrodite, Cop Land + 60+ other projects) has been kicking it podcast-style with his buddy Gerry Moody for the past year, which I may have overlooked if not for his appearance on this week’s WTF with Marc Maron. Having been weaned on diet of rap and comedy from his teens, “Rap” has a unique and definitive rhythm to his delivery, which is rapid-fire, truthful, and disarmingly funny. And Moody matches him step-for-step. There are also no filters on these guys — if you’re squeamish about expletives, be forewarned — this is the kind of show that iTunes’ “Explicit” notice is talking about. Rap also makes no bones about getting everything right, as he periodically reminds us that the hosts don’t fact-check anything as they go. (Let’s be honest: a lot of gabcasts don’t seem to fact-check, either, but they spew right along as if they’re streaming gospel.) As for what’s on the subject docket, I Am Rapaport is a smorgasbord of chatter, with conversation between the hosts ranging from politics (heavy on the Trump-bashing), questioning why singer Adele is so hot, The People vs O.J. TV series, haven’t we all had enough of Kim and the other Kardashians (including a slice about shouldn’t Rap and G be allowed to walk down the street with their “loaves” out), what business does Pam Anderson have telling convicts to go vegan, and more. It’s a packed podcast, mostly filled with fun and salty borderline rants about the topics at hand. [iTunes]
Beautiful/Anonymous - Ron Paul’s Baby
Elizabeth: Chris Gethard’s new Earwolf podcast, Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People a.k.a. Beautiful/Anonymous, strips away the celebrity guests, obligatory games, and project promotions and gets back to the basics of podcasting: two people having a conversation. In each episode, an unnamed person calls in and can speak to Gethard about anything for an hour. The caller can hang up at anytime, but Gethard has to stay on the line. It’s the perfect format for Gethard, particularly given that many of the most memorable moments on The Chris Gethard Show have come from call-ins. The first episode features an anonymous caller from Texas who is unhappy with his customer service job and his life in general. Gethard feels responsibility to help the caller make a change and the call quickly turns into a fascinating therapy session tracing the caller’s life back to his conception at a carnival and his subsequent delivery by politician and doctor Ron Paul. Gethard gives some tough love and really pushes the caller to stop making excuses and start making progress. The episode ends with primal screams and while we’ll never know whether the caller follows through on his promises, it really does feel like he has a renewed sense of hope, which is pretty amazing for a one-hour phone call. [iTunes]
All Killa No Filla - Pedro Alonso Lopez
Marc: A comedy podcast with a sole focus on serial killers? Welcome to the world of microcasting, where there’s something for everyone. The hosts of All Killa No Filla are a pair of British comedians, Rachel Fairburn and Kiri Pritchard-McLean, and each episode focuses on the exploits of a given serial killer. (Sadly, in today’s society, it seems they’ll not be running out of material for their show anytime soon.) This episode looks at the exploits of Pedro Alonso Lopez, who is reputed to have raped and murdered several HUNDRED victims, the majority of them girls between eight and twelve years old. The murders took place in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in the 1970s. This is not a show for the faint of ears, as some of the recounting of Lopez’s crimes are chilling and horrific. How do the crimes of “The Monster of the Andes,” as Lopez became known, and the other serial killers the show feature into a comedy podcast? You definitely have hear Fairburn and Pritchard-McLean to understand how they can simultaneously revile the criminals and honor the victims, all the while finding elements of the life of someone like Lopez that they can make light of, all while cracking themselves up. Hopefully this unique approach won’t blow back on the hosts — after all, Lopez was released from a psychiatric hospital in 1998 on good behavior and is still at large to this day. [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Bananaland - Greatest Hits Vol. 1
Hello From the Magic Tavern - Tom the Nominee
Mouth Time with Reductress - Get It Week! With Chelsea Clarke
How to Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black - Chuck Klosterman
Wasted Advice - Creepy Bosses, Manscaping & Condom Use
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at email@example.com.
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.