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.
Hound Tall - The Electoral College
Leigh: You’ve probably had a conversation or 2 or 20 about the Electoral College in the past few months. You may have even signed a petition about it. If that’s the case, you owe it to yourself to listen to this week’s episode of Hound Tall. Because while you may be angry that it exists, you’re probably angry for the wrong reasons. Host Moshe Kasher brings Dr. David Henkin, a history professor at UC Berkeley, together with Baron Vaughn, Dave Anthony, and James Adomian (and yes, Bernie Sanders) to try and make sense of it all and learn who else it’s screwed over in the past and how to beat it in the future. Sure, this country’s history is full of a bunch of offensive things, but as we learn in this episode, none are as bad as the offensive act of doing physical bits on a podcast. [iTunes]
Sklarbro Country - The 2016 Character Extravaganza
Pablo: It’s a shame that Sklarbro Country, the first podcast to be added to Earwolf during its 2010 launch, doesn’t get the listenership is deserves. I assume it’s from the average comedy fan’s aversion to sports, but since its beginning, it’s been home to some of the best character work on the Earwolf lineup. If you’re a Comedy Bang! Bang! completest who’s never listened, you’ve missed out on over 50 appearances by Jesse Ventura, Bernie Sanders, Tom Leykis, and the rest of the psychos living inside James Adomian’s mind. But while James unfortunately does not appear on the Sklar Brothers’ annual character episode, it’s still jam-packed with six talented improvisers who cram the studio with over two dozen celebrity guests. Ever wanted to hear Javier Bardem discuss the genesis of the And1 streetball tour and the political ramifications of the Philippines’ murderous drug war with Manny Pacquiao? How about Dennis Rodman giving his offer to Nicolas Cage to gaff on Face/Off 2?? Even if you don’t know it, you’ll definitely want hear Racist Vin Scully make an unexpected post-retirement return to wax poetically about the displacement of Chavez Ravine’s Mexican population. If you’ve ever sardonically tweeted “Oh, is the sportsball game on?” during the Super Bowl, you definitely don’t understand why we keep coming back to sports. It’s not the highlights or athleticism; ultimately it’s about the characters. [iTunes]
Adderall and Compliments - Naha Armady
Marc: Comedian Annabelle DeSisto, once a writer for Joan River’s Fashion Police, has found her own niche in Podcastland with Adderall and Compliments. Her bubbly personality, allegedly fueled by the title pharmaceutical, has a snarky edge to it. Which plays particularly well with this week’s subject: crystal healing. She’s very serious about the topic, and has returning guest Naha Armady from LA’s House of Intuition back to delve deeply into the subject. But the snark comes out to play when Armady is recounting a recent visit to TV’s The Doctors, who had her on to demonstrate the healing powers of crystals with one of the Real Housewives of Orange County. Armady talks about the balancing act she had to do between her real practice with the crystals and the requests by the producers to create a certain look – including using much bigger crystals than normal so they would “play” on TV. Much of the episode is spent delving into the details of the powers and effects of a set of healing crystals DeSisto is offering to listeners, which allows plenty of room for the host’s cheeky humor along the way. [iTunes]
Hollywood Handbook - Will Greenberg, Our Close Friend
Noah: Will Greenberg, one of the stars of TBS’s Lost parody Wrecked, is a fine third for Hayes Davenport and Sean Clements this week, who opts to match their braggadocio in a choice that’s become unusually rare of late. Hayes and Sean steal the show, though, with two imaginative ad reads for Casper’s new branded In Your Dreams podcast with Chris Gethard, and their first trip to the Teaser Freezer in some time. The boys drag The Comedian through the fire, stopping and starting the two-minute trailer for almost a half an hour to poke at its hackneyed punchlines in their classic overdone and misguided style of analysis. At the same time, the boys provide one of the most thorough and insightful critiques yet of a trailer whose worst offenders have faced enough fair criticism already – see, for example, the interesting parallel thoughts about “going viral” that Tom Scharpling susses out on this week’s Best Show featuring Hayes and Sean. Tangents like these, especially Sean’s repeated insistence that The Comedian is right that women will always laugh when called a sex worker by a stranger and the duo bluntly pointing out that Jackie Burke can’t take the kind of attention he gives people, are a pillar of Hollywood Handbook’s place in podcasting: shouting truth to power through two doofuses. [iTunes]
Hello from the Magic Tavern - Sarah For Real
Marc: When one podcasts from a magical land, there’s no telling what strange things may occur. Foon, for instance, is the mystical place that’s home to Hello from the Magic Tavern — which host Arnie started when he fell through a portal behind a Burger King — and which takes place weekly at The Vermilion Minotaur. After 93 episodes, it seems Arnie was able to somehow escape from Foon, because the show is helmed this episode by Sarah Maher, who does her best to fill in, along with regular co-hosts Usidore (a wizard) and Chunt (a shape-shifting beaver). With a new Earth person to play with, there are a lot of interesting attempts to explain some of the wonders of Foon to her, while Maher reveals new wrinkles about her home world to the crew. When wander-by guest Can the Wizard stops in, things take a turn for the weird, a couple of spells go awry, and…well, no spoilers but let’s just say that Arnie’s back. [iTunes]
High & Mighty - Weddings with Jamie Lee
Elizabeth: Jon Gabrus kicks off the year by taking on the wedding industrial complex. Helping him on this journey is comedian Jamie Lee, author of the new book Weddiculous. As two people who have been through the matrimonial gauntlet, Jon and Jamie compare notes on their own weddings and talk about what worked (free-flowing alcohol, good food, writing your own vows) and what didn’t (impersonal rabbis, mediocre bands). They also talk about keeping it simple (because no one cares) and what traditions to keep and which creepy ones to scrap, namely the garter belt toss and super long daddy-daughter dances. Whether you’re a bridezilla, a groomzilla, or a perpetual wedding guest, there’s plenty to be learned about how to survive the biggest day of your, or someone else’s, life. [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
Pod Save America - “Repeal and go fuck yourself.”
Bitch Sesh - Compromising Positions with Michael Rapaport
Fitzdog Radio - Laurie Kilmartin
F*ckin Chillin w/Cody Ko - 100k Subs
How to Be a Person - How to Travel to Cuba
Weird Adults - Jackie Johnson
Tuesdays with Stories - Rainbow Dick
Marty & Sarah Love Wrestling - Booklet Club 4-Life
Hollywood & Crime - Bathtub Murder
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.