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.
Maeve in America: Immigration IRL - The Live Episode: Feeling All The Feels
Noah: Maeve in America isn’t strictly a comedy podcast as much as it is a podcast by a comedian, but it’s well worth a stop at the renewed intersection of comedy and social activism. Maeve Higgins, a new Irish immigrant to the United States, has assembled a hell of a live show to complement her weekly podcast of immigration stories – recorded at SubCulture in New York City, Maeve is joined by a poet, a journalist, and Emmy The Great, one of the day’s premier Chinese-European songwriters. In a broadcasting landscape that seems desperate for its next Garrison Keillor, Maeve’s global perspective and good humor are a surefire bet. Her aside when asked about traveling between her home and her homeland – as she jokingly whines about the predominantly male customs agents trying their best dad jokes on her – is universal and of the times. With a keen eye for the truth and a sharp comedic tongue, Maeve in America is creeping up on essential Americana. [iTunes]
This Week Had Me Like - Champagne Burps (with Vanessa Chester & Max Silvestri)
Leigh: It is with a heavy heart that I write this was the final episode of This Week Had Me Like. For the past year or so, this show has been my number one (okay, and really only) source of bizarre celebrity news. But maybe now that a failed celebrity steak salesman is running the country, we all get more celebrity news on a daily basis than we’re equipped to handle. For the final episode host Caroline Goldfarb is joined by returning guests Vanessa Chester and Max Silvestri, and they do not disappoint. There’s a lot to cover this week, from Angelina Jolie’s 15-year-old son getting an executive producer credit to Lindsay Lohan pitching herself to star in the live-action Little Mermaid (because of course she did) to how that one La La Land producer (yea, you know the one) probably orders a sandwich and Rob Lowe’s recent deal with Sketchers. Listeners of the show no doubt remember the Breyers Gelato Indulgences Suite from an earlier episode. Well, not only has it come back, there’s a firsthand account of what exactly goes down in the BGIS from Aubrey Plaza, who’s actually been inside it. While it did sound like there is some sliver of hope This Week Had Me Like will eventually return in some way, until then it’s up to us to keep up with Charlie StarKist Tuna mascot and the McCafe on our own. [iTunes]
Sorry I’ve Been So Busy - Josh Patten
Mark: Somewhere, in an alternate universe, life is refreshingly bland under US President Martin O’Malley. If you’ve ever wondered about the backstory of the most mildly popular Democratic “candidates” in recent history, wait no more. Did you know he was formerly the mayor of Baltimore, whom Mayor Carcetti from The Wire was based off of? Listen to SNL writer Josh Patten on Sorry I’ve Been So Busy for great tidbits like that and so little more about O’Malley. In addition to sharing what he’s learned in a past life working on political ads, Patten takes hosts Matt Goldich and Andrew Goldstein behind the scenes at Weekend Update. Hearing him race through a week at SNL almost by the hour is thoroughly enjoyable to listen to, and that includes the brief Doughboys-esque pit stop to rank candy. It’s a must listen for any aspiring comedy writer or existing comedy nerd. And I’m not just saying that because of the generous Splitsider shout out halfway through. [iTunes]
Congratulations with Chris D’Elia - Closing Time
Marc: Comic Chris D’Elia is no stranger to podcasts, having co-hosted The Ten Minute Podcast with Will Sasso and Brian Callen up until 2015, when he and Callen started sliding out the door due to scheduling conflicts. With Congratulations he’s setting sail into treacherous waters, namely the solo host speaking extemporaneously and without backup. Even his producer is a silent presence in the studio (at one point D’Elia announces that his producer is “laughing his ass off in there!” in response to one of the host’s riffs. Only on his sixth show, there are some wobbly “What am I going to jump to next?” moments of dead pod, but the guy’s a pro and funny to boot, so recovery is not a problem and he’s off on another tangent. He talks about some recent air travel moments with a man who will not engage with him, even after accidentally smacking him in the face. And D’Elia also delves into the history and the mystery of the song “Closing Time” by Semisonic. While he’s not yet quite up to the level of Bill Burr or Greg Proops when it comes to riffing for one for an hourlong podcast, D’Elia is coming on strong and well worth the listen. [iTunes]
All Fantasy Everything - Entourages
Pablo: On this week’s All Fantasy Everything, host Ian Karmel, guest Zak Toscani, and unofficial co-hosts David Gborie and Sean Jordan draft their entourage. But before you holler “OH YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” into these Hollywood nights, the boys aren’t drafting The Boys but rather their top 5 choices for their dream celebrity entourage. While all four look outside the box when it comes to drafting a varied multifaceted team that can help you out in everything from winning a fight to getting laid, there’s a clear winner. But first, the losing entourages. Gborie’s draft starts out strong, with actor and Twitter all-star Wesley Snipes, globetrotting billionaire Richard Branson, and the world’s most beloved scientist Bill Nye. But in the later rounds he drafts a couple of duds in washed up actor Nick Nolte and rapper MIA, whose pick he defends based on her marriage to a Seagram’s heir… a marriage he’s unaware ended five years ago. Jordan’s draft also starts out strong with his picks of A-list badass Jason Statham and rapper/gourmet chef/walking dab Action Bronson. But he then drafts Emma Stone, Bruno Mars, and Ed Sheeran in a bizarre channeling of Matt Millen, if Millen’s affinity for wide receivers was replaced with corny ass people. While Karmel’s team is solid, in the end it’s Toscani’s superb drafting that shows that the best entourage bypasses repugnant political ideologies or even being human. His team? George W. Bush, Matthew McConaughey, Captain Sully, Schoolboy Q, and a Komodo Dragon. You got the designated driver, the pretty boy, the guy who can get you out of any situation, the cool guy, and a mother fucking Komodo dragon. Unless you’re Sharon Stone’s husband, how can you turn down kicking it with a Komodo dragon? [iTunes]
Good One - Weird Al Yankovic’s “Word Crimes”
Marc: Jesse David Fox, host of Good One: A Podcast About Jokes, gives the show’s premise a slight twist with a beat this week. The show is only a few episodes in but, rather than have a comedian deconstruct one of their jokes, he plays Weird Al Yankovic’s “Word Crimes,” a parody of Robin Thicke’s 2013 “Blurred Lines.” The remainder of the episode is spent with Yankovic at his house, talking about not only every aspect of that particular parody, but Mandatory Fun, the landmark album that came out a year later and featured a song plus a music video that was released every day for a week, including “Word Crimes,” a video which has over 35 million views on YouTube. As it was also Yankovic’s final album at the tail end of his lengthy record contract with RCA — and perhaps his last full album ever (“There are so many ways to push content out now that why would I want to stick with that model?” he asks Fox) — the renowned musical parodist clearly delights in looking back over his career and his process for crafting clever takeoffs of popular songs. We even get a peek at some of the lyrics that might have been in “Word Crimes” if he’d been feeling slightly different. [iTunes
Missing Richard Simmons - Till the Day I Die
Kathryn: Who cares about Richard Simmons? I don’t. Or, I didn’t used to. I’m about as far from a Richard Simmons fan as you can get; what memories I have of his technicolor ‘80s fitness heyday are tainted by the kibbles and bits jokes my withholding, extremely cis dad would make at the expense of his short shorts. Simmons was always too big and loud and crazy and I didn’t get it. But I do remember when he disappeared a few years ago, supposedly locked away by his maid. So when the hyper-buzzed Missing Richard Simmons podcast finally came out, I figured it might be a nice investigative diversion, a Serial-lite. Plus, it’s helmed by Dan Taberski of The Daily Show and the Graham Norton Effect, and frequently features the Sklar brothers, who were genuine friends of Richard’s before his disappearance. And Richard’s Beverly Hills fitness studio was called “Slimmons,” that’s a solid pun (it closed in November 2016). But by week four, I’m starting to care. This week we revisit Richard’s childhood, growing up the son of a 4’11” exotic dancer mom and unemployed dad, devoutly Catholic, in the gay quarter of New Orleans aka the “Fruit Loop.” It’s starting to make sense how such a singular personality could emerge from that kind of existential gumbo. It’s the kind of background that could have churned out another Tammy Faye Baker, a tent revivalist TV preacher, but somewhere along the line Richard took a slight left and became a preacher of fitness, instead of God. He said the same things the same ways, but his overall message was much more practical and realistic than it needed to be. You can lift yourself up, he’d yell from his pulpit, all those years when I wasn’t paying attention because his shorts were too short. You can run the mile, you can lose the weight. Today is the day, you can be saved, not from “The Devil” but from yourself. And now, collectively, we want to save him. [iTunes]
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
So Many White Guys - Phoebe and Abbi Jacobson Order Takeout
Hannibal Buress: Handsome Rambler - Flying Lotus and Thundercat
Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People - Made Out With My Teacher
The Kevin McDonald Show - Scott Thompson, Dana Gould, and Gin Blossoms
Don’t Get Me Started - SNL as Sport w/ Jesse David Fox
The Parrothead Podcast - Margaritaville Citywalk & Latitude Margaritaville
Got a podcast recommendation? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pablo Goldstein is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.
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.