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 Bill Simmons Podcast - Jimmy Kimmel and Cousin Sal on Week 6
Mark: Every week on The Bill Simmons Podcast, the titular host and founder of Grantland (RIP) & The Ringer brings on his former co-worker at Jimmy Kimmel Live, writer Cousin Sal to preview the upcoming NFL week. It’s always a fun listen for football fans, but this week the two invite Jimmy Kimmel himself to make a rare podcast appearance. Even if the brief football talk makes no sense to you, it’s impressive to hear that a) Jimmy Kimmel has the time to follow the NFL and b) anyone (Sal) would be crazy enough to give their son the middle name “Romo.” The three reminisce about the early days of JKL and unearth an instant Hall of Fame late night moment from 2003 featuring Matt Stone & Trey Parker heckling Lorenzo Lamas during his interview, culminating in an attempt to fart on his head. If you thought other Jimmy’s Tousle-gate was uncomfortable, wait until you see this video. They also discuss how Trump has affected the writers room this election season and keenly point out why nobody has seen he and Alec Baldwin in the same room lately. Regardless of where your late night loyalty lies, it’s refreshing to hear Kimmel talk to genuine friends for once. [iTunes]
Bullseye - Cameron Esposito, Rhea Butcher, Jeff Garlin
Kathryn: Can you be professional partners with the person you love? Or even work in the same creative field without jealousy and competition getting in the way? To be honest, Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher don’t really answer that question on Bullseye this week; it seems like you just have to get lucky with your soulmate, and they did. So it’s always fun to hear them co-host or co-guest on a podcast. Lots of us miss their podcast Wham Bam Pow but they’ve been up to so much other cool stuff lately, like the standup showcase Put Your Hands Together and the Seeso show Take My Wife, you can’t really blame them. Jesse Thorn tends to hew to more serious topics than most comedy hosts, and in this case the conversation swirls around casual misogyny. Rhea and Cameron have been personally invested in how to handle the subject of rape in comedy for a long time and given where society is right now, it just keeps getting more and more topical. As influential female comics, they are first and foremost funny, but also (I shudder to use this word) “important.” And in other news this week, Jeff Garlin hosted a live sex show once and The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 is a very good movie. [iTunes]
King Falls AM - Dear Diary
Marc: How odd and übermeta is it that there are podcasts that feature fictional radio shows as a centerpiece to their narratives? First came Welcome To Night Vale with announcer Cecil, but Night Vale is not the only quirky town around. Already 35 episodes in, King Falls AM is a different station in a different place, with morning team Sammy and Ben holding down the fort and fielding calls from the oddball denizens of King Falls, a “lonely little mountain town,” as it’s described. The AM format of the show puts it more squarely in your face than Night Vale, and there are a lot more voices to help tell the often paranormal tales. In the latest installment, there’s a bit of consternation over a sponsor that’s selling somewhat suspicious chicken. But the main focus is a female caller who has only recently moved to town. She’s more or less trapped in her house and is confronted by a diary that she gleaned the radio station’s phone number and Sammy’s name. The diary comes to life and starts flapping around, the woman can’t escape the house and the radio guys call their favorite cop to try to help out. Before the officer can get to the scene, the line goes dead and… Well, I’m not going to spoil it – you’ve have to hear what happens for yourself. This show doesn’t have the subtle, sly humor of Night Vale, but it definitely stays true to that wacky AM radio vibe and find a funny beat all its own. [iTunes]
The Best Show - Tom Has A Cold! Comic Con! Tom Steals!
Noah: It’s been a big year for big people ripping off The Best Show: Google nicked a years-old tune for a Chromebook ad and Jimmy Kimmel stole the long-running character quiz for his own “Name That You!” segment. But, of course, when Tom Scharpling – who motivates himself to get up in the morning by saying “you can do this, stupid” – threatens to start taking from popular media himself, he can only muster the desire to repurpose Star Wars Minute into Trash Bleepers Minute. Even when Scharpling goes for theft, it’s parody. That’s the great joy of a sixteenth year Best Show: every moment has its place and stands on the shoulders of over a decade of setup. Like 7-year-old Holden, who cashes in on all the minutes lowering Scharpling’s guard to steal the show wondering if A.P. Mike sells “kid Massa’s” t-shirts. Or Marselle from Orlando, who endeared himself to the host this summer with a whiny Tompression but, this week, got banned for six months just for bringing up the Ken Bone meme. Tom may have a cold from eating street pretzels outside of a sixty dollar gig at New York Comic Con, but the show still flows like he’s as spry as ever. [iTunes]
Ronna & Beverly - Leslie Grossman, Adam O’Byrne
Leigh: Consider this episode of Ronna & Beverly an essential companion piece for the new Amanda Knox documentary on Netflix. For starters, Beverly has a seriously impressive knowledge of the case. Which, by the way, doesn’t stop her from changing her opinion on who’s guilty in real-time. She and Ronna are joined by friends Leslie Grossman and Adam O’Byrne to break down everything about the movie. They cover all the questions we all had. Like why nobody flushed the toilet, what was the real deal with that prosecutor, and, maybe most importantly, why Knox chose to wear that hat. If you haven’t seen the documentary, there’s still something for you in this episode. The second half is filled with Ronna and Beverly’s signature advice to listeners. From the questionable, albeit profitable way Beverly has been lying to her friends to tips on how to deal with a shitty family and getting over stage fright, this episode once again proves these two could talk about absolutely anything and it’d always be hilarious. [iTunes]
The Nerdist - Gale Anne Hurd
Marc: If you’re someone that’s connected to geek culture in some way shape or form, you likely owe at least a smidgen of that lust — if not a whole lot more — to Gale Anne Hurd, recent guest of host Chris Hardwick on The Nerdist. Although she’s made her career behind the scenes, producing such nerdbait as The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, The Hulk, Tremors, and Alien Nation, it’s her perennial geekgirl imagination that helps her to determine which projects to pursue. “I may look like an old lady now,” says Hurd, “but in my head I’m always fourteen.” She’s got no loose lips when it comes to unwrapping the upcoming season opener reveal of who buys it when The Walking Dead opens its seventh season later this month, although she happily talks about her newest TV charge, Falling Water, premiering this week on USA. It’s all about the nature of dreams and who might be in control of them, which prompts Hardwick to deepdip a reference to Dreamscape, the 1984 Dennis Quaid fun-but-clunky movie in the same vein. Having been with James Cameron at the very beginning of his inception of The Terminator (it all sprang from a fever dream he had while sick, of seeing a metal skeleton emerging from flames), that we get some fun behind-the-scenes stuff. Such as the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger was originally considered for the role of freedom fighter Kyle Reese, while O.J. Simpson was thought to be a good casting choice for the time-traveling killer cyborg. There is so much delicious ground to cover with Hurd and her projects that the episode runs an hour and a half, but it still goes by way too quickly, leaving one hoping this guest will soon return for another visit. [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Nerdist - Norm Macdonald
2 Dope Queens - Fifty Shades of Matthew McConaughey
Hollywood Handbook - Keith And Jesse, Our Food Explorers
Judge John Hodgman - Live From Portland, Maine 2016
I Was There Too - Star Wars with Anthony Forrest
Doug Loves Movies - Live from Boston: Tony Hinchcliffe, Tim Brennan, Ken Reid, and “Mark Wahlberg”
Tuesdays with Stories! - Random Throb
Minority Korner - It’s Our 50th Extravgaynza Spectacular, So Let’s Have A Vakiki
Reality Life with Kate Casey - MTV Road Rules Reunion
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Kathryn Doyle is a science writer from New York.