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.
Monday Morning Podcast – 7-25-16
Marc: By his own admission, there’s nothing special about the latest installment of Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast. He just finished writing scripts for the sophomore season of his F Is For Family animated series and he’s got no gigs of consequence until kicking off his European tour next week. By the same token, there’s nothing NOT special about it. Burr’s ability to slide from one topic to another, perched in his LA apartment with nothing more than a handheld microphone, is pure podcasting at its best. He hits on behaviors and lingo of the South, security issues, Deep Purple, and strikes a glancing blow at the political conventions currently ongoing as we ramp up to the November Presidential election in the United States: “It doesn’t really who matters who gets in – whoever it is will just do whatever the people with money want them to do and that’s pretty much it.” He dips into auto racing for a bit (“More interesting than the slow days of baseball in July and August…”) and wraps up by answering letters from listeners. Most of those seem to always be dealing with sexual issues, which Burr does justice to in his inimitable, expletive-laden style. Although one is from a 30-year-old man facing his first airplane trip, and you just have to love Burr’s carefree attitude: “It’s gonna be great! You’ll love it! Be sure to get a window seat.” I wonder if anyone writing in ever follows Dr. Bill’s advice? [iTunes]
WTF – Episode 727: Jane Lynch
Marc: This delightful low-key interview with one of America’s funniest actors starts out with the story that Jane Lynch (Best in Show, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Glee) was supposed to be on WTF before, but she got frustrated trying to find host Marc Maron’s fabled garage and gave up. Apparently she’s found Google Maps and arrived without incident for this episode, and she proves to be a great guest and very normal kind of person. Lynch talks about how she discovered theater in high school, then got turned off in her very first production because “I got big laughs in the audition, then nothing in the first dress rehearsal.” Fortunately, she found her way back by her senior year and has pursued acting (and singing) pretty much exclusively ever since. Interestingly, she auditioned and got cast in Second City’s traveling troupe for their road show without ever having taken a class at Chicago’s fabled improv and sketch headquarters. At the same time, she was told that she would never make it to the main stage so she should just stop asking. Instead, she went on to do her own shows or get involved in small grass roots shows like The Live Brady Bunch, and managed to carve out a lovely career without the help of Second City. She talks to Maron about her low-drama coming out as a lesbian and how her life has gotten to a place where she’s just happy whether she’s working or not. And she shares a great story about working on a TV commercial directed by Christopher Guest, which led to her being tapped to appear in his Best In Show movie that really got her noticed. [iTunes]
Get Up On This – Pete Davidson
Mark: At 22 years old, it’s guaranteed Pete Davidson has accomplished more than anyone reading this. He debuted on SNL before he was even able to (legally) drink, has a Comedy Central special coming out this fall, and is touring the country alongside other top comics for the 2016 Oddball Festival. Fear not unaccomplished comedy nerds, in this episode of Jensen Karp and Matt Robinson’s Get Up On This we find out during Davidson’s time “wasted” being on MTV and honing his standup routine, he missed out on a bevy of pop culture touchstones. He’s just catching up on The Sopranos now, an egregious blind spot for a Staten Island native. Because he only spent a brief time in college, he’s never seen The Big Lebowski. Perhaps his worst offense is not knowing who Toonces the Driving Cat is, which is normal for a regular 22 year old but alarming for an SNL cast member. Since Davidson has become such a social media recluse of late, it’s refreshing to hear about his busy SNL offseason spent picking out inevitably regrettable tattoos. Kudos to Karp and Robinson for braving Skype and letting us “get up on” Pete Davidson. [iTunes]
Chapo Trap House – ReTHUGlican National CRIMEvention
Pablo: Due to the 2016 election there’s been an explosion of political podcasts, with the majority falling under one of two categories: Boring wonk fests featuring rotating panels of dull Beltway insiders or shows like Fake the Nation that are advertised as political talk for people who get their news from BuzzFeed. So I’m glad to have discovered Chapo Trap House, a podcast for people like me: Angry leftists who spend way too much time on Twitter to distract themselves from the monetary realities of our liberal arts degrees. I wrote about CTH a few columns back, but that was mostly to cover their guest, Vine virtuoso Vic Berger. Now I’m fully on board and it couldn’t have come at a better time as both parties rally their troops in the great American tradition of making old white people the stars of NBA arenas. This week, hosts Will Menaker, Felix Biederman, and Matt Christman welcome Bryan Quinby, who was in Cleveland last week, to discuss the coronation of Donald Trump and the fever dream of hate that surrounded it. While the episode is jam packed with commentary about Rudy Guiliani’s racist teeth and Alex Jones’ conspiracy theories, its high-water mark is when they dive into the hacked DNC emails. It turns out, there were emails way more offensive than those advocating Antisemitism and anti-atheism to scare undecided voters away from Bernie Sanders. Among the leaks was an email imploring Democrat pranksters to brainstorm ideas on how to cause chaos during the Republican convention. Like, putting Trump’s face on the world’s largest cuckoo clock in nearby Sugarcreek, OH. Because Trump is cuckoo. In any other year, this election would be a blowout for the Democrats. But can you really trust old white people with a lay-up? [iTunes]
Noah: Tom Scharpling brings a new level of specific absurdity to his cold open this week, fashioning himself a CB radio moderator and soliciting calls from truck drivers to share their Pokemon finds out on the open road. It sets this week’s installment off on the right foot and slams on the gas – the topic, worst decisions made by otherwise smart people, brings out a refreshing ratio of lady callers (even as Scharpling later rants that “Nodudevember can’t come soon enough”) as well as a surprising focus on how many companies passed on E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. The Best Show always soars when the callers are in tune with the host, and everyone involved this week seems to be working agreeably to make the show great. Even as Scharpling takes a detour to shame New York Comic Con for denying him and his staff press credentials, his complaint becomes the inspiring tale of a honey badger going out to whip a lion’s ass under the Hale-Bopp comet. Plus, with all eyes on Philadelphia for the week, Jon Wurster dusts off the Philly Boy Roy character live from the convention floor with the killer story of trying to nominate Hillary Rodman Clinton for president. [iTunes]
SPONTANEANATION – Gabrielle’s Quinceañera w/ Rachel Bloom
Leigh: For those of you also having a hard time waiting for season 2 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to start, I’ve got some good news: Rachel Bloom is on this week’s episode of SPONTANEANATION with Paul F. Tompkins. If you’re not familiar with the structure of the show, PFT spends the first half of episode having a conversation with a guest that’s kicked off by a question left by the previous week’s guest. They’re then joined by a group of improvisers and they all do a narrative improv. The best part is that pianist Eban Schletter is there with them, scoring the whole story live. For the first half, Rachel Bloom shares some pretty embarrassing stuff, like how she wore diapers for so long that she was old enough to have memories of shitting in her pants. Or that, very surprisingly, she didn’t know a lot of music (beyond show tunes) growing up. But, very unsurprisingly, she does know how to navigate her way through a conversation to make it seem like she did. They’re then joined by Stephanie Courtney, Ryan Gaul, and Gary Anthony Williams and head off to Gabrielle’s Quinceañera where there’s a port-a-potty mishap, they meet a guy named Don Joan Johnson, and learn a little known story about the making of the movie Dave. [iTunes]
The Moment with Brian Koppelman – Mike Birbiglia
Elizabeth: Aspiring writers will find plenty of inspiration on this week’s The Moment. Brian Koppelman sits down with second-time guest Mike Birbiglia, writer-director of Don’t Think Twice, to discuss his process and how the movie developed. Mike talks about his practice of workshopping his screenplays by inviting fellow writers and filmmakers over to read it aloud and eat pizza (good pizza is key). He also discusses how he handles the notes from these sessions and pushing forward even when the writing has gone backwards. Brian and Mike also compare their writing schedules and talk about how they motivate themselves to show up for their writing sessions. (Mike writes himself a bedside reminder that he has a meeting with his mind.) But alas, even with all the tricks they’ve discovered over the years, they still aren’t able to answer the question “How do you write scripts and have great abs?” Perhaps they’ll figure it out by Birbiglia’s next visit to the podcast. [iTunes]
The Beef and Dairy Network Podcast 13 –
Kathryn: The Summer Olympics start next week, so it stands to reason that we’d get a special edition of The Beef and Dairy Network Podcast (the number one podcast for those involved or just interested in the production of beef animals and dairy herds) recorded at Ipanema beach in Rio. For a year now, Welsh comedian Benjamin Partridge’s podcast has been sticking to the same very specific joke – cows are funny – and exploring it exhaustively. It’s dry and preposterous, and follows that familiar Kristen Schaal sine wave of comedic repetition: funny, okay, wait you’re losing me, why are we still doing this, hang on we’ve been doing this so long it’s funny again, this is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard, wait why are we still doing this, etc. Previous episodes presented the results of the UK Meat Attitudes Survey, profiled the world’s first cow mayor in South Australia, and featured a cooking segment with TV’s “Mr. Beef.” In the Rio Special we hear from dressage rider William Hester (Miles Jupp) who was disqualified from competition last month “because in the eyes of people on various committees I was riding a cow rather than a horse.” And don’t miss the Lynchean outro in which countless Brazilians call in to repeat in untranslated Portuguese that their favorite beef meal is “salchicha de carne de boi” for a full three minutes. [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Taco Tuesday – Epi100: 100 And Done
Fake The Nation – Epi3: Vote With Your Couscous
WTF – Chuck Klosterman
Found Podcast – Looking for Love w/Nick Nolte & David Cross
The MEAT Improv – Josh’s Sister Elle & Casey Feigh in “Sisters”
Never Not Funny – Amber Rose
This Week Had Me Like – Khloe vs Chloe ft. Jake Fogelnest & Tavi Gevinson
Talk Is Jericho – Andy Kindler
No One Knows Anything – Historical Event
Retail Nightmares – Sarah Hughes
The Todd Barry Podcast – Rikki Lindhome
Hard Nation – Bernie Sanders Parallel Parks at the DNC
Bullseye – Keegan-Michael Key & Tituss Burgess
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Leigh Cesiro is a writer living in Brooklyn who only needs 10 minutes to solve any Law & Order: SVU episode.
Mark Kramer is a writer, comedian & human boy from Staten Island, New York, but please don’t hold that against him.
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Kathryn Doyle is a science writer from New York.