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.
Mike and Tom Eat Snacks - A Popular Snack Invented in 1912
Marc: Unlike some of the snacks they choose, sample, and review, the hosts of Mike and Tom Eat Snacks (MATES), Michael Ian Black and Tom Cavanagh, apparently try not to overwhelm the ears of their listeners. We know this because they drop their episodes very sporadically — the last one was half a year ago. But just when you think these guys are out of the snack game for good (perhaps too busy with their various TV show and movie commitments), they reappear with their witty, often nonsensical repartee, which unwinds for long, enjoyable minutes before they slowly peel back the wrapper to reveal each show’s snack. They’re in rare form here in episode 100 — a six month’s rest seems to have recharged their batteries — and they make a big show of unveiling the snack chosen for this episode. (Longtime listeners, or “maties,” have heard them ruminating over the choice for months and months.) If you want to be surprised, then read no further: it’s the humble Oreo cookie. Dig in for 43 minutes of two guys who know how to romance the hell out of a cookie. [iTunes]
Mouth Time with Reductress - Aubrey Plaza
Elizabeth: This week on Reductress’s Mouth Time podcast, Quenn (Nicole Silverberg) and Div (Anna Drezen) are recovering after a bird flew into the office and gave everyone a negative body image. They chat about an issue that affects everyone: turning your boyf, the person you’re dating, into your hubsand, the person you marry. (The terms aren’t gendered, so stop sending them letters.) They also share ways to just sit and die after you like his pic from 79 weeks ago (you really need to find the right one for you) and they are just frothing over white eyeliner, silica packets, clear ombré (a.k.a. short hair), sidewalk socks, strawberry allergies, fauxpologies, handstands, losing your keys, and having hate in your heart. Later they sit down with Aubrey Plaza for a hard hitting interview touching on questions like “Can women be funny in outer space?” and “What’s your dream swimsuit and why would you decide not to wear it?” They also talk soldiering on through a bad relationship with a boyf and go through the top ten things Aubrey is not. [iTunes]
I Was There Too - Carrie and The Hustler with Piper Laurie
Kathryn: There’s a fine line between horror and comedy in Carrie (1976) that you might never notice if Piper Laurie, who played Sissy Spacek’s mother, didn’t point it out. She learned early on from Brian De Palma, who she calls a “young rabbi,” that hair pulling saves the wardrobe department some work, but comes off as comedy. If you’re going for horror, you gotta tear your dress. Host Matt Gourley finds this and everything about Laurie’s storied career fascinating, including her tales of working with Paul Newman and George C. Scott. Never has a podcast been so compelling that I actually purchased whatever the guest was there to promote, but there’s a first time for everything and oh here I go picking up my Kindle to download Laurie’s Learning to Live Out Loud: A Memoir. If I’m half as delighted by it as Gourley was, it’ll be more delighted than I’ve literally ever been. Speaking of my ultimate podcasting crush, he brings on his fiancée Amanda “Fun Buns” Lund of The Complete Woman series on Howl to close out the ep. Gourley is clearly smitten with her and everything she does, as is evident on Pistol Shrimps Radio. In a segment called “I Was There Tune” he feeds her song lyrics that she completes with nonsense on the fly. It’s the kind of classic bit that a besotted couple does in the car while they drive around to their dimly lit cafes or portrait galleries or wherever besotted couples go. The song game might not be as thrilling to a general audience as it is to Matt, but even I have to begrudgingly admit that he and Lund are adorable together. [iTunes]
Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People - Live at Vulture Festival
Mark: Some podcasts don’t translate well to live episodes. Aside from sometimes questionable audio quality, often the performers dutifully oblige the audience for forced laughs. In Beautiful/Anonymous’ first live episode, Chris Gethard hits the perfect medium of crowd-pleasing bits while staying true to the format. We even get a peek behind the curtain as before the call, Gethard explains how the minimal screening process works and acknowledges internet criticism he’s received. The caller, dubbed by Gethard as the “Angriest Canadian,” is easy to root for after opening up about her struggles on the job market. Her relatability lent itself to audience interaction from the crowd in the form of live tweets that were actually positive, a rare oasis on the internet these days. We’re hoping more live episodes are on the way, an uncommon statement for today’s podcast universe. [iTunes]
WTF with Marc Maron - Neil Young
Marc: In the years he’s been doing his podcast, WTF, host Marc Maron has talked to comedians, actors, celebrities, a sitting president, and a few icons. This week he dropped an icon on us in the form of Neil Young. An unassuming yet amazing musician whose career has spanned five decades (and counting), he’s renowned for a trademark voice and a musical style that, well, has always shifted solely at his whim and never in the direction the marketplace was expecting. He stops by to mention his new album, Earth, but never hypes it at all. Instead he’s an affable, charming guest who has no qualms following Maron’s interview lead wherever it goes — from his early days as a teen in Winnipeg, across Canada, and on down into the United States. And although this may be his adopted home, he makes it clear that if everything here slides sideways, he’d have no difficulty making the transition back up North. Maron keeps touching on the creative process and inspiration with his guest, and it’s interesting to hear Young talk about how he never knows when the muse for a song will strike but, when it does, he drops whatever he’s doing for as long as it takes to get that latest sound out and into the world. There’s a lot more that goes on but we’re talking about an icon, man! It’s well worth checking it out for yourself. [iTunes]
The New York Radio Hour - Samantha Bee’s Fury and Staffing the Supreme Court
Sam: I learned something this week, which is rare. As Forrest Gump said, “I’m not a smart man but I know what a great podcast is.” I think he said that. Anyways, this was the first episode from The New Yorker Radio Hour that I’ve listened to. The podcast is one hour in length and broken down into four different sections, each one hosted by a different New Yorker writer. The first section was about comedian and TV host Samantha Bee and her decision process on how to put together the Full Frontal opening monologue on the night of the Orlando shooting. Her monologue wasn’t about how love wins – she was angry about mass shootings in the United States. It’s definitely worth listening to how she and her writing staff balance rage, anger, and making jokes. The next section of the podcast discussed what and who is a US Supreme Court Justice and what exactly having an empty seat in the court means. The third part of the podcast took a look at virtual reality and one man’s life work in developing 4D technology and the risks and challenges facing developers and advertisers. The final part was a spotlight on a man from New York rebuilding his family’s roots in Serbia by reclaiming a house that was stolen from his family by the communist regime of Russia. Before finishing the podcast I was dumb, but now I feel I’ve grown a whole IQ point. Does it work that way? If you don’t believe me, give this podcast a listen. [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Get Up On This - Sarah Pappalardo
Happy Sad Confused - Jeff Goldblum
Oh No, Ross & Carrie - Ross & Carrie Audit Scientology (Pt. 9): Getting the Boot
DredgeLand Podcast - Episode 1
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at email@example.com.
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Mark Kramer is a writer, comedian & human boy from Staten Island, New York, but please don’t hold that against him.
Kathryn Doyle is a science writer from New York.
Sam Jae is a writer and comedian based in LA.