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.
Rock Bottom with Matt McConkey - Episode 1
Kathryn: It’s not totally clear what shape Rock Bottom is ultimately going to take. It seems like recapping Logo’s Finding Prince Charming aka the gay bachelor is just an inroad to a larger discussion of gay culture and it feels like a long time coming. Not that there weren’t already great podcasts on gay issues, like Homolab, Throwing Shade, etc., but none of them are hosted by Matt McConkey. You might not have heard of McConkey, but you will soon. This year he went from writer’s assistant to staff writer on Seeso’s Bajillion Dollar Properties, his pilot Hey Girl is one of the first wave of New York Television Festival official script selections, and it seems like everyone on your favorite shows already knows and loves him. Why, Internet, has someone not transcribed the truly hilarious capsule movie reviews he sends in to Bitch Sesh? He’s so consistently great it makes you say ‘somebody give this guy his own podcast’ and hey, someone did. [iTunes]
Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast - Joe Pantoliano
Marc: I challenge you to find an installment of Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast that ISN’T worth a listen, either because of some amazing guest (often pulled from the misty past of show business), a collection of amazing stories, or to hear Gottfried’s trademark amazing cackle. The latest episode features a visit with Joe Pantoliano, who has blurred the line between character actor and star with the bumper crop of great roles he’s played on by TV (Ralph from The Sopranos!) and in the movies (Memento, Matrix, and The Fugitive, to name just a few). Coming from a painful, often brutal childhood, Pantoliano is quick to reveal that acting was his escape vehicle early on in life, and only through long years of therapy has he been able to “normalize” his life. Much of the focus in the first half of the show in on what was his life growing up in Hoboken, New Jersey, including moving ten times due to that family having no money and being evicted or, more often, skipping out in the middle of the night owing back rent. Once the conversation movies into Pantoliano’s colorful screen career, there are some fantastic anecdotes and run-ins with bigger-than-life stars that get Gottfried’s cackle into full bloom. No spoilers here, but the tales of meeting the likes of Gregory Peck and Robert Stack (who gives him a hilarious bit of advice about taking awards in stride), and his interchange with Harrison Ford while shooting the climax of The Fugitive make this hour and a half fly by. [iTunes]
Why Oh Why? - A Celebration of Awkwardness
Noah: Until now, it never would have been appropriate to categorize Why Oh Why? as cringe comedy: the queasy reality of dating that Andrea Silenzi coaxes from people doesn’t line up with the Ricky Gervais style of manufactured awkward situations. All that changes when Silenzi brings in Dave, who listeners will remember as the last-minute babyface of episode 1’s focus group and geeky focus of the first date voyeurism in episode 3, and plays back Kate’s crushing betrayal for him to hear. It’s The Assassination of Android Dave by the Coward Yoga Dave, a rock bottom in the former’s dating life, and the poor guy has to relive it for the enjoyment of “that podcast bitch!” Still, Dave gets some kicks in when Silenzi plays some b-roll from the date’s end, including some rightful jabs at both Kate and Yoga Dave’s tedious views on Marxism. Sexy Irish Dermot regales, too, revealing on an accidental date that Silenzi’s initial impression about his laid back demeanor was nothing more than a drug-induced down. With every new point on this love shape, Why Oh Why? keeps getting more and more real. [iTunes]
The Scary Secrets of Stasis PA - Part 1: Swamp Encounters
Marc: Another week, another town. Last week I covered King Falls AM, a show about a creepy mountain town. This week kicks off a three-part story leading up to Halloween, The Scary Secrets of Stasis PA. Not unlike the podcast burgs of King Falls and Night Vale (Welcome To Night Vale), Stasis is a small town (Population: 9,999) that hides many secrets. Part 1 of the series has an extended opening to introduce us to the show’s host — one of the world’s most beloved figures — cast in a macabre light that you’d probably want to keep the kids from hearing, especially if they still believe in him. Plus he swears like a sailor. We discover that the population of the Stasis has remained unchanged since the Coolidge administration and, in fact, not much in this sleepy, creepy town every changes. We meet popular high school senior Deborah Hart, who’s worn her graduation cap and gown for all four years of high school in anticipation of her matriculation. But this night finds her combing the fringes of Stasis’ swamp, on a mission to find a particular bum. She finds what she’s looking for, and a lot more than she was bargaining for, the result being the second part of the episode in which seedy newsletter journalist Andrew Posey being to search for the truth of whatever has become of Ms. Hart. The writing is sharp, snappy, and funny, with a number of quick turns and non sequiturs reminiscent of the writing of The Simpsons and Family Guy, only definitely NSFW. They also leave enough loose ends that tuning in for parts 2 and 3 feels almost mandatory. [iTunes]
Adam Ruins Everything - Bad Forensic Science with Chris Fabricant
Elizabeth: If you’re looking for a comedy podcast that will infuriate you this week, then might I suggest the latest episode of Adam Ruins Everything? For episode 11, Adam Conover chats with Chris Fabricant, a lawyer with the Innocence Project who also appeared on season 1 of Adam’s TV show of the same name. Chris was actually the guest that inspired Adam to create a podcast for extended conversations with the experts that appear on the show. They tackle the mind-blowing injustices caused by faulty forensic science, which, despite what CSI has led you to believe, is about as scientific as a phrenology. Chris explains how some of the common techniques came about, including how bite mark analysis started because a robber left a half-eaten block of cheese on the counter (Think about it. People have died or spent years in prison because of some cheddar!), and how they came to set faulty precedents that continue to impact the fates of defendants. He also describes his worst deposition ever, in which a bite mark expert (imagine an ego-maniacal dentist) called him a sociopath and an asswipe. The episode raises important questions about biases in the criminal justice system and calls into question the validity of so-called forensic experts. It may not be a funny podcast, but it certainly is an important one. [iTunes]
This Week Had Me Like - Happy Oatober w/ Eli Olsberg
Pablo: Pop culture podcast This Week Had Me Like’s best recurring segment is Celebrity Endorsements, but on this week’s episode host Caroline Goldfarb gets to three of the most insane endorsements I’ve ever heard before reaching the segment! Along with guest Eli Olsberg, the duo cover an increasingly more bizarre series of celeb products and the nausea-inducing press releases that accompany them. Starting off, we have Alyssa Milano for Viva’s line of Signature Design paper towels. It’s a lot like the Medici Family’s patronage of Florence’s Renaissance artists except with Tony Danza’s TV daughter. Next up, John Mayer’s specialty laundry detergent that comes in a 16 fl oz bottle and only costs $35. This detergent is called Laundress x John Mayer a la the hottest streetwear collabos, so you know it’ll have your clothes smelling like one of Mayer’s used brown leather wristbands. But the apex of celebrity endorsements is an October-only exclusive, or should I say Oatober: Katie Holmes for Quaker Oats. In her own words, Katie says that “Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfast choices because it’s delicious and packed with nutrition.” They should change the meaning of SP from Suppressive Person to Stupendous Pitcher because now I wanna eat some damn oats! [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Dead Pilots Society - Only Child by John Hodgman
Pop My Culture - Toby Huss
The Comedy On Vinyl Podcast - Harry Shearer
Crybabies - Julianne Smolinski
Star Wars Minute - SW Special Edition Minute 104: Outtake Reel
The Boogie Monster - Wikileaks Aliens
Last Things First - Colleen Ballinger (AKA Miranda Sings)
The Poundcast - Live at the Blue Whale Comedy Festival
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
Elizabeth Stamp is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Kathryn Doyle is a science writer from New York.