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.
WTF with Marc Maron - Dana Carvey
Marc: Dana Carvey, of Saturday Night Live, Wayne’s World, The Dana Carvey Show, and a lifespan of standup comedy, has been staging a re-emergence the past year or so. Earlier in 2016 he popped up in USA’s First Impressions with Dana Carvey, a game show hosted by Freddy Prinze Jr. and featuring young comedy impressionists pitted against one another. This week he made his first foray into THE garage, the lair of WTF with Marc Maron. And sure, he may have been plugging his new Netflix special, Straight White Male, 60, but one can’t help but notice that there’s an honesty and frankness to this chat with Maron that goes way deeper than the occasional appearances he’s made during the past decade or more on the nighttime talk shows. Even more than on his recent appearance on the Howard Stern Show. He reveals that he’s started seeing a therapist — on the recommendation by friend Conan O’Brien that he “deserves to be happy.” So perhaps that’s it, or maybe Maron got him going down some paths he’s not used to, including talking about a rough childhood growing up on the San Francisco Peninsula at the hands of a brutal father. It gets pretty heavy, with Carvey remarking at one point, “I’m kind of crying behind my eyes right now.” The garage lightens up as Carvey’s journey gets to the point where his two sons are now performing as well and the pride at having created space for them to share his dreams lets us all take a deep breath at the end of it all. [iTunes]
Scriptnotes - Revenge of the Clams
Mark: There has been plenty of discussion about the joke graveyard recently posted by the Workaholics writers’ room, here on Splitsider and elsewhere. If you’re like me and hear “spoiler alert” at least twice daily in the office, the phrase has officially jumped the shark. Speaking of which, has “jumped the shark” officially jumped the shark? John August and Craig Mazin take a deeper look at the list of clams and keenly point out that many aren’t jokes in themselves, but lazy reactions to preceding jokes (ie. “I wish I could unsee that”). August and Mazin offer advice on how to find alternative jokes with the same sentiments. They also gently remind us that every time a character uses one of these phrases, they become less real and unique. Strange that it took so long for everyone to agree that merely repeating a joke from another funnier, original source is frowned upon, but better late than never. Ultimately this should inspire writers to try harder. And by try harder, I mean be more original. Did I just say that out loud? Yeah, that just happened. Shots fired. Too soon? I think we’re done here. [iTunes]
Call Chelsea Peretti - Best Election Results Imaginable
Leigh: This is not fake news: there’s a new episode of Call Chelsea Peretti. Sure, it’s only seven minutes long, but after six episode-less months, I’m not complaining. Longtime listeners will no doubt remember the robot from older episodes that would record the podcast for Chelsea while she was on the road. Well, like most of us, in the wake of the election, even the robot has changed dramatically. If you’re looking for answers on what went wrong, who to blame, and where do we go from here, you’re in luck. These seven minutes are jammed packed with all of that. Plus, some very insightful takes on the election, like breaking down all the narratives, Trump’s suits, and advice on what we can do now (mostly just smile, wave, and help clean up beer cans at the victory tour stops). Hopefully this quick one-off episode is a sign of more episodes to come, but even if all we got were seven minutes of Call Chelsea Peretti every six months, I’ll take it. [iTunes]
Fake the Nation - Duct-Taped Republic
Elizabeth: What a time to be a political comedy podcast! How do you even start to scratch the surface? Negin Farsad does her best to cover as much of the week’s depressing/infuriating news as possible with guests Sarah Pappalardo (Reductress) and Frank Conniff (Mystery Science Theater 3000). First topic up for discussion is the recount efforts: Will it change anything? Is it tainted by Jill Stein’s involvement? Wouldn’t Republicans be doing the exact same thing if Trump had lost? They also look at Trump’s attempts to check off the diversity box in terms of his cabinet and go through a roll call of his most horrifying appointments to date. And finally, they talk about the death of Fidel Castro and the very creative ways the US government has tried to kill him over the years. [iTunes]
James Bonding - The Music of James Bond
Pablo: Of all the repeated elements that appear in the James Bond film series (new car, new gadget, new girl, etc.), the strangest to me has always been the theme song. With a few exceptions like Duran Duran’s ‘80s pop-influenced theme for A View to Kill, they’re usually over-the-top mixes of orchestral schmaltz and surreptitious seduction. But since there’s over two dozen of them, if you count the unofficial Bond movies and themes bumped to the end credits, it’s allowed James Bonding to return for a special one-off podcast where Matt Gourley, Matt Mira, and guest Jason Secunda rank them all from worst to first. Except for their unanimous pick for worst, Madonna’s horrible pre-T-Pain autotuned Euro-EDM theme for Die Another Day, there’s a good deal of disagreement in this two and half hour podcast. Only one of the hosts enjoyed my personal pick for favorite Bond theme, Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name” from Casino Royale, which is a weird choice considering I can’t stand Chris Cornell. But the hosts sum up what makes a great Bond song while wrapping up the episode: It has to be sung by the perspective of a woman who has been wronged by 007. And I can’t deny that a young, long-haired Cornell was one sexy dame. [iTunes]
Secrets, Crimes & Audiotape - Wait Wait Don’t Kill Me
Marc: The anthology series Secrets, Lies & Audiotape from Wondery rolled out a true original as of a couple of weeks ago: “a satirical serialized podcast musical about Serial,” as the intro goes. Presented in five parts (the final installment drops next week), this show seems an amazing undertaking. It includes original music and songs, and some legit Broadway talent filling out the parts in a fanciful tale about the making of the famed Serial podcast that broke our medium wide open two years ago in a way never before seen. In the world of “Wait Wait Don’t Kill Me,” the host of This American Life, Ira Glass, is a shrill, demanding prima donna, while Sarah Koenig is portrayed as a hungry and somewhat deranged story editor behind the scenes until she is pressured into revisiting the murder of teenager Hae Min Lee that she’s written about as a Baltimore beat reporter. This production weaves in elements of the Serial podcast both beautifully and hysterically, from using the distinctive strains of the show’s musical theme to revealing the made up origins of the man who mispronounces the word “chimp” as “kimp” in the sponsorship ads from a popular email service. If you loved, tolerated, or even missed Serial, this five-parter will make great holiday binge-listening for your upcoming long holiday drive. [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Bitch Sesh - One Year Anniversary with Andy Cohen
All Fantasy Everything - Cities for a Weekend
I Was There Too - Almost Famous w/ Marc Maron
How To Be A Person - Adam Conover - How To Kick Bad Habits
I’m Too Effing High - Ryan Meharry & Ryan Stanger
Definitely Dying - Nick Wiger
Regular Girls - You Gotta Start Somewhere
Terms - Opening Gambit
Tuesdays with Stories - Dead Eye Dick
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.
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.