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.
High and Mighty - SNL w/ Horatio Sanz
Kathryn: If you read this column with any regularity, you know one of us writes about High and Mighty almost every week. That says a lot about a podcast hosted by a guy who is admittedly bad at podcasting- read any of the five star takedowns of Johan Garbus (Jon Gabrus) on iTunes for more information. He talks over guests, loses his train of thought, and doesn’t appear to do a ton of research beforehand. It would be a disaster for anyone else, but for Gabrus it works. In this Saturday Night Live themed episode, a very game Horatio Sanz gives fresh, candid answers to the same tired questions everyone asks SNL alums, like “What did you do for your audition?” “How about those after parties, were those fun?” “Hey you and Jimmy sure broke character a lot, huh?” Sanz never seems to get annoyed at these questions, and he doesn’t spit out stock answers like you’d expect, so the conversation can get to some weird places. We learn why it’s boring for a hot girl to play a not-hot girl and an athlete to play a nerd, where to keep your half-eaten taco (a Toyota Ter-ce-el), and how a fat guy can get his celebrity impressions to work onstage: play Justin Timberlake stung by 1,000 bees. For Sanz admirers (Horatio Fanz?), this hour of High and Mighty may help fill the Hooray Show-sized hole in your life. [iTunes]
Improv Nerd - Mike Birbiglia
Leigh: Mike Birbiglia is making his rounds across the podcast circuits, if that’s even a thing, to promote his new movie Don’t Think Twice. And what better place than Improv Nerd (though also listen to him on this week’s Fresh Air) to talk about a movie about the world of improv. A movie which host Jimmy Carrane has already seen and has nothing but praise for, which makes it kind of hard to listen to without getting jealous you (most likely) haven’t seen it yet. But more on jealousy in just a second. The two talk about Birbiglia’s start in improv, how his stand up evolved, the importance of creating your own stuff, and what his wife said after watching one of his improv shows that inspired him to write Don’t Think Twice. Whether you’re into improv or not, or for those of you saying this movie is going to be too inside baseball, the movie deals with some universally relatable themes like self sabotage, dealing with other people’s success, and jealousy – all of which Birbiglia has wise words to share and advice about. And, find out whose success he is and isn’t jealous of. [iTunes]
Last Podcast On The Left - Bigfoot Hunters
Marc: Unlike most of the strange and fantastic topics that hosts Henry Zebrowski, Ben Kissel, and Marcus Parks of Last Podcast On The Left have covered, this podcast is a lot more substantial. For 232 episodes now, the trio have irreverently yet thoroughly looked into such weird stuff as demonology, UFO sightings, cults, vampires, chaos magic and, most recently, bigfoot hunters. Be warned: The hosts do not hold many (if any) of the cryptid seekers in high regard. Through readings, interpretations of writings, and hysterical impressions of these mostly bearded and overweight stalkers of the Sasquatch, Zebrowski and company go pretty deep — the episode runs over an hour — and can’t seem to find a single rock solid account or shred of evidence that holds up to scientific scrutiny. Still, there is also a bit of affection tossed out for the incredible moxie and showmanship that many modern day hunters of bigfeet display. (And it IS bigfeet, not bigfoots, when you’re speaking of the pretty-much-nonexistent creatures in the plural.) The hosts have gotten pretty popular and travel around doing live shows in spots around the country. One hopes that in their ramblings, the guys are keeping their eyes peeled for the odd and unusual. [iTunes]
Back On The Redd Planet - The Great Outer Doors
Pablo: Given their popularity among listeners, I know I’m in the minority for saying this: The worst subgenre of podcasts is the episode-by-episode recap of old TV shows. Whether it’s ironically covering a cheesy ‘90s sitcom or trying to cover new ground in the well-worn territory of Golden Era Simpsons (by my count, there’s seven on iTunes), these podcasts are essentially audio versions of television recaps from The A.V. Club. These podcasts are so prevalent that it was only a matter of time before someone made a parody of these exercises of nostalgia. In Back On The Redd Planet, hosts Chris Morgan, Matt Schimkowitz, and Seth G. Macy spend each podcast recapping an episode of The Redd Planet, a fake ABC TGIF sitcom about the hi-jinks of the Redd family on the planet Mars. Based off “The Great Outer Doors,” it doesn’t seem that they jot down even a scant outline of the “episode” they scrutinize, meaning that they’re improvising their analysis while simultaneously improvising the plot of the episode and the backstories of the actors. Like their meta forefather Hollywood Handbook, these hosts are creating mythologies and ridiculing their positions as learned TV historians at the same damn time. Future would be proud. What else can I say but: Great idea, even better execution. [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Sooo Many White Guys - Pheobe and Ilana Glazer Make America Great Again
Ronna and Beverly - Live from the Bell House NYC with Ellie Kemper, Wyatt Cenac
Hob The Troll - Murray Valeriano
Kill Me Now with Judy Gold - Andrea Martin
Tonight’s Watch - The Winds of Winter
Hollywood Handbook - Showrunners Panel, Our Major Event
Pistol Shrimps Radio - Summer Masters Round 2
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Kathryn Doyle is a science writer from New York.
Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.