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.
Employee of the Month - Judy Gold
Elizabeth: Judy Gold, prolific standup comedian and host of the excellent podcast Kill Me Now, joins Catie Lazarus on stage at Joe’s Pub for the latest Employee of the Month. Much of the episode goes into one of Judy’s lesser known TV appearances in one of the families on an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap. Judy talks about the experience of being on the show with her partner Elysa, Penn Jillette, and his wife Emily, which was a fortunate pairing given that Judy and Elysa were originally supposed to switch with country singer Tanya Tucker and her nanny/friend. Judy’s perspective on how they came off on screen is a bit different from Catie’s perspective, but at least Judy got some free furniture out of it. They also go back to her early career in standup and Judy explains why she still does so many spots, particularly compared to her peers. Catie shares a clip of Judy on Louie and they discuss standups as actors in between snippets of Judy’s story about a heated incident at Zabar’s. [iTunes]
Don’t Get Me Started - Unfavorable Semicircle
Pablo: This week’s Don’t Get Me Started is so good that its main topic of discussion, a series of mysterious YouTube channels named “Unfavorable Semicircle” that fans theorize could be anything from outsider art to copyright infringement detecting software to alien communications, isn’t even the episode’s most idiosyncratic obsession. Before getting into guest Michael Hartney’s love of these creepy videos, host Will Hines brings up a site that I’m now in love with: xwordinfo.com, a place where crossword puzzle nerds rate and review every single puzzle from the NY Times. But there’s an obsession even more specific earlier in the episode, one that I never really thought of but now will bug me for the immediate future. This week’s minor obsession for host Anthony King is finding out how many people are needed for the question “How are you doing?” to elicit a “Woooo!” instead of an actual answer. Confused? I was too, until he explains that he’s specifically referring to a comedy show audience. As someone who always lets others do the “Woooo!” for me, I felt a slight tinge of shame knowing that even if I was the only audience member, I couldn’t bring myself to elicit even a half-hearted woo. It’s just not in me, so leave me out of any scientific research on the subject. [iTunes]
The David Feldman Show - Gilbert Gottfried, Jackie Martling & Sara Tiana
Marc: First of all, the guests listed for the most recent episode of The David Feldman Show are not in order of appearance, nor do they appear together. Secondly, if you were hoping that this was going to be the episode you wanted to listen to without earbuds, you’ll want to re-think that choice. First out of the chute is Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling, who intersperses talking about finding fame via The Howard Stern Show and plugging his forthcoming book From Bow to Stern with a barrage of quick, mostly dirty jokes. Twenty minutes in, Gottfried tags in and for the next hour and a half he and Feldman engage in some of both the funniest and also the filthiest jokes, one-liners, references and celebrity impressions to spill out of the audio medium since Dudley Moore and Peter Cook released their Derek & Clive LPs. When not disparaging Jackie Coogan’s (Uncle Fester, from TV’s Addams Family) harrowing WWII exploits, or ruminating on what a sexual encounter between Paul Williams and Shirley Temple may have sounded like, host and guest go off about being a comedian, hell gigs, Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast and his upcoming book, Rubber Balls and Liquor. At times Feldman and Gottfried crack each other so much that there are long spaces filled with nothing but the guest’s trademark cackle and the host’s gasps as he tries to catch his breath from laughing so much. They also riff endlessly with a reference that, literally, is so unseemly that I can’t quite figure out how to mention it here. Standup and comedy writer Sarah Tiana has the unenviable task of following the whirlwind that is Gilbert Gottfried, but she’s a welcome change of pace to what precedes her. [iTunes]
The Unbelievable Podcast - Episode 199
Kathryn: Nearing episode 200, The Unbelievable Podcast still hasn’t run out of conspiracy theories to explore, from boggy creek bigfoots to the time travel of Steven Gibbs (who is NOT a Bee Gee, in case you were wondering). As fast as comedians Brian Frange and Phoebe Tyers can cast one theory, people come up with two more. What’s kept The Unbelievable Podcast going so long is first off being funny and good (step one) and secondly, being enthusiastic about the ideas, not buying in or selling out, just having fun with it. In this age of an increasingly polarized two-party society, if you can find a middle path, take it. Episode 199’s “month in review” covers the death of ol’ baby eyes David Rockefeller, Shaq’s understanding of the shape of the earth relative to that of a basketball, and a deep dive on whether you can or should pin a no-fault automobile accident on being distracted by a sasquatch. I genuinely almost had to turn this episode off at minute 23 during the EXTREMELY GRAPHIC audio of bigfoot penis vocalizations, so, trigger warning for that. Otherwise, I’ll echo iTunes reviewers who call it “fair and balanced,” “serious mixed with a little tomfoolery,” and “it saved my marriage.” [iTunes]
My Brother, My Brother, and Me - The McElroy Brothers Will Be In Trolls 2: Chapter 1
Noah: Could there be a greater Cinderella story for the mod-ren era than the arc that sees three southern boys grow up in regional theatre, start an unassuming advice podcast, leverage it into an NBC-backed television program, and wind up on the silver screen alongside bona fide Hollywood A-listers in the forthcoming Trolls 2? To quote MBMBaM itself: “If there is, I haven’t seen it.” And that’s the crux of a new “prestige podcast” spinoff from the McElroy brothers, which blends elements of the whispery, sing-song public radio-style of storytelling with a candid recording of Justin, Travis, and Griffin stoned off their gourds in a hotel room in Portland, Oregon. The audience is treated to the concoction of the plot to be cast in Trolls 2, all while our protagonists try to keep their tenses straight. This isn’t The McElroy Brothers Want To Be In Trolls 2, after all. This conceit has legs, despite the fact that Trolls 2 isn’t expected to hit cinemas until 2020 and the boys quickly run dry on plans of attack. Griffin sets the venture up for success, though, when he suggests that there’s no way of knowing that any given three of the voiceless Trolls set to dance in the background are the McElroy brothers – but 20th Century Fox owes us more than that. [iTunes]
Learnt Up - Chicken and Waffles and Pastrami Sandwiches
Marc: The comedy podcast format seems to have no limit, as proven by Learnt Up, a new show by comedians Lorrain DeGraffenreidt and Sarah Isaacson. The former is black, the latter is Jewish, and it seems that there’s a lot about their own culture that they don’t seem to know too much about. The second week out it’s particular items of cultural cuisine – namely, chicken and waffles for Lorraine, and a Reuben sandwich for Sarah. Although we don’t journey with them to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles or Kanter’s Deli (both in Los Angeles) to sample these delicacies of their respective heritages, the journeys and samplings are humorously recounted. I won’t spoil the fun, but suffice it to say that one of the co-hosts didn’t care much for hers and the other couldn’t get enough of hers. They also explore the mysteries of how an ancient Jewish dish, karsha varnishkes, which features bowtie pasta, came to exist. And then there are a few funny homemade commercials an some bonus commentary sprinkled in at the end. DeGraffenreidt and Isaacson join the likes of Two Dope Queens in bringing funny, bold personalities to Podcastland. [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
My Favorite Murder - Live at the Neptune
Handsome Rambler - Tony and Hannibal Talk With Open Mike Eagle in L.A.
Stop Podcasting Yourself - Alicia Tobin
The Best Show - Todd Barry! Dougie Miller! Rough Times!
Dead Pilots Society - Big
Film Threat - Episode 008
Don’t Ever Change - Matt Broussard
Fitzdog Radio - Andy Kindler
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at email@example.com.
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.